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Mike Christopher 

Acorns (www.myspace.com/mikechristophermusic)

Akron singer-songwriter Mike Christopher could be anointed as a buzzworthy Christian artist if not for marijuana references like "Just gettin' high waiting for Jesus" (in "Friend in Jesus"). While he may be a complex man, his music certainly isn't. He plays predominantly acoustic coffeehouse alternative. He can write beautiful minimalist blues like the atypical "Your Dream," but he elects to fill Acorns with hoary chord progressions and half-baked attempts at profundity.

Unfortunately, the musical backing is so sparse, the disc ends up driven by vocals and lyrics. Christopher mumbles like Son Volt frontman Jay Farrar strung out on downers, and he struggles to carry lightweight melodies. His contradictory everyman sentiments are perplexing, when not downright banal (in "By Myself," he reveals, "When I dream I talk to God/He's very nice"). Occasionally Christopher plugs in his guitar, only to produce awkward derivative clunkers. Sometimes the pastries aren't the only stale thing at the coffeehouse open-mic night.

More by Matt Gorey

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