Album Review by Mark Bayross
Aric Michael Berquist, a Minnesotan singer-songwriter now living in Florida, lists his influences as everyone from REM to Van Halen. The fact that this, his third album, consists of equal amounts of acoustic strumming and squealing rock-outs indicates that he hasn’t strayed too far from these influences.
However, listen closer and subtleties can be found, some not quite as obvious as the celtic-tinged violin of ENLIGHTEN ME or the rockier, mid-period U2 guitars of RUN. DOTH THY, for instance, is graced with glacial keyboards, while the title track benefits from some sterling stadium rock dynamics.
The subject matter here is pretty much given away by the song titles – AMB is a Christian. Now, normally that’s my cue to run for the hills, especially with lyrics like “I spoke to Jesus / And he spoke to me” (A LITTLE TIME) or the crucifixion-heavy opener WHY. But there’s a ambiguity here wrought from internal conflict that hints at a more interesting character than a happy-clappy Christian – both the LA stripjoint-rock of MYSELF and HEAR ME show a man who is just as familiar with the darkness inside him as the light.
As a general rule, Christian musicians do not sell records (just ask the brilliant Klay Scott) and I very much doubt Aric Michael Berquist is the man to change that. In his favour is an obvious ear for melody and a voice that occasionally evokes the husky majesty of Neil Diamond. Unfortunately, an ill-advised predilection for 80’s hair rock (the aforementioned MYSELF) and for giving his songs titles like DREAMS OF THE SAVIOR won’t win him any new fans.