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CD Reviews: Review of Resurrection by Brian Vander Ark
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Brian Vander Ark: Resurrection (2004)

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You needn’t look any further to see where the real gift was behind the now-defunct 1990s hopefuls The Verve Pipe. On the polished new Resurrection, singer and highly underrated songwriter Brian Vander Ark displays the knack that likely garnered his quintet from East Lansing, Michigan their label contract nearly a decade ago. Sure, “The Freshman” was a great song, and the old band had a distinct appreciation for assorted instrumentation on stage, making their live shows pretty cool. But I’m here to report, if The Verve Pipe seemed a cut above the other fallouts from that era like Semisonic, Dishwalla and Tonic, this first solo endeavor of Vander Ark’s should firmly solidify that posture.

At times aloof, practically playing with rhymes, BVA manages to never quite roll over and play dead. “Another day of deflating your face into tears, I shook your mood with the game and a bottle of beer,” he spills in the hushed icebreaker, “1229 Sheffield.” Any allusion that Resurrection is just Verve Pipe “light” or a sleepy book of love songs their frontman could never get the other guys to play is swiftly rubbed out once “A Million Things” bowls in. This breezy guitar romp commands the entire car’s attention and does so without an ounce of waste. The rock and roll scholar even shines here on the bristled “Someone Like You,” when Vander Ark declares, “Lennon wrote please please me well before they came stateside, McCartney wrote for no one but I’m pretty sure he lied, he wrote it for someone.”

Maybe the finest burst throughout Resurrection comes on the jumpy “Written and Erased,” a perfectly scribed ode to the very tribulations that The Verve Pipe and others know all too well. “Do you wanna be famous, wanna get a taste, do you wanna be written and erased, do you wanna be faded like the scene in a one-hit wonder magazine,” BVA challenges, while his band slams along a better verse than most anything and everything he’s done up until now.

With such a one-of-a-kind voice, his simple even effortless ability to strum athwart the songs he writes (and oh, those songs!), Brian Vander Ark seems supremely fitted for this gig. I hear the matchless vocals of someone as special as Elvis Costello or Billy Bragg. I hear the storytelling mastery of Bob Dylan. I hear 11 pristine tracks that plead a case to be heard but do so without begging. Resurrection has engaged me like no other collection of songs this year. Now we must see if the multi-year layoff between The Verve Pipe and the solo career was spent harvesting anything more than just this lone outing. I, for one, hope we are closer to the starting line than the finish. 

~Red Rocker 


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