Brian Vander Ark

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Resurrection Review

by Christina Fuoco

Best known for the single "The Freshman," the Verve Pipe is a schizophrenic mix of anthemic rock songs, tender ballads, and Beatlesque pop tunes coming from the pens of drummer Donny Brown and singer/guitarist Brian Vander Ark. Although the Verve Pipe, which was dropped from RCA, is still writing songs, Vander Ark has broken out on his own with his debut solo effort, Resurrection. The 11-song CD is a collection of whispery songs that draw from experiences of painful breakups (the ballad "And Then You Went Away"), the rigors of living up to a record company's expectations (the punchy "Written and Erased"), and death ("When I'm Gone"). Over an acoustic guitar and muted piano, Vander Ark laments about a relationship nearing its end in "1229 Sheffield": "I don't recall anyone placing a gun to our heads/We traded a trip 'round the world for a family instead/Our friends were dispersing while you were still nursing our boy." The song -- which originally appeared on the 1998 soundtrack for the movie Clay Pigeons -- is the only Verve Pipe offering on Resurrection. He spits about an uncommunicative lover in "A Million Things": "It's no surprise that you roll your eyes/Every time I want to talk about it/Another minute/You throw up your hands and then you make demands/Like you never want to hear about it." The moody, pennywhistle-laced "When I'm Gone", which is featured in the Angelina Jolie/Edward Burns romantic comedy Life or Something Like It, is difficult to listen to for those who have lost someone close to them: "There are so many things that I may have missed/I hope the answer is as simple as this/Will my friends be brave/'Til someone plays my favorite song?/Will they miss me when I'm gone?" Musically, Resurrection is a stark departure from the Verve Pipe. It's simple, with most of the songs based on acoustic guitars. However, the title track and "Written and Erased" are penned with the same urgency as early Verve Pipe works. Resurrection is the ideal vehicle for Vander Ark to show that he is one of the most underrated songwriters in music.

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