Dave Hollister

Things in the Game Done Changed

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Former Blackstreet member Dave Hollister has a problem all too common in R&B: finding songs half as memorable as his voice. But his third solo album -- and his first for Motown -- makes some progress in that quest, suggesting that a little Detroit magic might have rubbed off on this Chicago hustler. Despite its title, Things in the Game Done Changed doesn't mark any substantial shift in Hollister's formula: he still favors repetitive tunes rooted in gospel, substituting the ebb and flow of his powerful pipes for catchy hooks and melodies. It's an approach he shares with contemporaries like Gerald LeVert -- but while LeVert has made a virtue of consistency, concentrating exclusively on the bedroom, a little variety serves Hollister better. Working with a variety of producers (including Tank, a younger kindred spirit), Hollister eschews the hip-hop collaborations that marked Ghetto Hymns, but a few rousing soul shouters on the order of "We Gonna Make It," plus a newfound optimism, give this collection a welcome spark, and make you appreciate his ability to spin the thread of a good idea into complex emotional tapestries like "Tonight" and the anguished "Tell Me Why." There's still no hit that would give Hollister the recognition his voice deserves, but he's finally made an album as rock-solid as his singing style.

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