- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Aug
- I'm Here
- More of You
- I Know I Can
- The Greatest
- Don't Stop
- Calm Da Seas
- Look Up
- Secret Place
- Bless Me
- You Are
- Just Worship
You need not look further than the cover of Dave Hollister's second album, Witness Protection, to realize the brother's chilling. He has much to grin about, having injected new life into his career after making a switch to urban gospel with The Book of David: Vol. 1 The Transition, a Billboard chart-topper and a terrific debut that was also one of the best of 2006.
That album saw him coming to grips with a painful divorce and his newfound faith—an unlikely combination that resulted in a near-conceptual disc that was also one of the most honest and real that gospel music has ever seen. By comparison, Witness Protection is the calm after the storm. Hollister is still as urban as they come, but he seems lighter on his feet— less grave, freer to worship.
The first half of the disc is a rock-solid display of modern urban tendencies, with enough distinctive features to help it stand out. A pop groove dominates the summer-ready "Striving," horns blare in the funk-rockish "I Know I Can," strings swirl in the urgent "Standing," and a throwback breakdown totally kills "More of You."
"Church" works as the disc's turning point. It's still a decidedly urban track, but Hollister seems to use it to reconcile himself with the Christianity of his youth, declaring he'll no longer look to human failings or hypocrisy as an alibi for not making it to church on Sunday—he'll be there because there's no other place God would rather he be.
From here, Witness Protection takes a turn towards urban AC pop—a slick, slow-burning approach that suits Hollister's voice marvelously. Whether worshipful ("The Greatest") or exhortative ("Don't Stop"), the crooner nails a style that would sound at home in a playlist featuring the likes of Alicia Keys or John Legend. Hollister saves a few experiments for the end, particularly a dramatic pop/rock piece ("Look Up") and churchy contemporary gospel ("You Are," "Just Worship"), but he's not as adept at those as with the more soulful material—the smooth, romantic croon comes more naturally to him.
Still, Witness Protection makes a fine follow-up for Hollister. His star in secular R&B may have faded, but in gospel he continues to prove that he's one of the freshest imports, a self-assured vet who could show others how to do sanctified urban music right.