Better known as the lead singer/guitarist/principal songwriter for anthemic popsters The Verve Pipe, Brian Vander Ark turns a bit more reserved and introspective with Resurrection, his solo debut. No longer sharing writing duties with Verve Pipe drummer Donny Brown seems to have rendered Vander Ark a bit tentative, still in command of his strong (if somewhat indistinctive) vocals and penchant for slowly rousing arrangements but not entirely well-served by the more humble arrangements.
Though Vander Ark declines the opportunity to revel in the same brand of alterna-pop immediacy characterizing his other band’s output, Resurrection hardly suffers from a lack of production. If anything, the dull paisley swirl of the sonic textures betrays a more careful than creative spirit. And the subtle acoustic guitar that forms the compositional foundation of these songs hardly benefits from being overlaid with fluttering keys and backing vocals that imbue the album with a more repetitive feel than it would otherwise possess.
His sentiments, often landing on themes of heartbreak and mortality, are as stilted as they are searching, often probing urgently into areas of love, death and fulfillment but generally lacking the specificity to give them any deeper resonance. Vander Ark is a top-shelf talent, unassailably sound in the fundamentals of songcraft, but where some artists can make flying under the radar their niche, Vander Ark could benefit from a little more bombast or audacity, as the innate personality of these words and arrangements might not prove enough to distinguish them from the ranks of similarly-minded adult contemporary radio stars.