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4Hero

Play with the Changes

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As one of the inventors of drum and bass, broken beat and future soul, U.K. production team 4Hero is a true innovator in forward-thinking dance music. You wouldn't know that, however, by the unusually placid sound of Play with the Changes. Made with an impressive variety of guests, including Ursula Rucker and Jody Watley, it's a tribute to the jazz-inflected R&B of the '70s, with strings and horn players contributing to a soulfully reflective atmosphere. But these talented singers don't have the big, larger-than-life voices that made '70s soul music so exciting. Tracks such as "Give In" (which features Darien Brockington and Phonte from Little Brother) are sweet and slow contemporary jazz. A few cuts, such as "Look Inside" have the skittering, restless beats that once marked 4Hero's productions. Play with the Changes could use that sense of adventure; instead, 4Hero just plays it safe with pleasing but tepid results. 3 stars.

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