Significant aspects of Dave Hollister's career went around in circles during 2003. Early in the year, he contributed to Blackstreet's flop return (not his fault), Level II; just as significantly, he came back to Dreamworks as a solo artist, after what he viewed as a disappointing stint on Motown. While those two moves seem like last-ditch attempts at recapturing old glories, this fourth album is only outshined by Ghetto Hymns as Hollister's best. Unlike the bulk of his peers, Hollister is able to convincingly pull off all of the numerous roles he plays. He might not be as flashy or as young as the acts lighting up the charts, but he has a lot of wisdom to offer -- minus the grandstanding -- along with a seasoned voice and the exceptional production skills of his small supporting cast (including Tank, Bink, and Mike City). It's a lean album with plenty of dimensions and little in the way of wasted moments. Hollister makes every second count, and while there might be a few lines that make you scratch your head -- such as "I need you as bad as old folks need soft shoes" -- Real Talk forges the singer's status as one of the most consistent, down-to-earth figures in contemporary R&B.
Real Talk Review
by Andy Kellman