All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Review: Hiram Ring - Breathe Deep

Hiram Ring – Breathe Deep
2009, Ring Records

Hiram Ring is a Lancaster, Pennsylvania based singer/songwriter with a strong Contemporary Christian bent and a sound that’s been likened to Ray LaMontagne and Jack Johnson. Growing up in far-flung places such as Ghana and Afghanistan, Ring has viewed various cultures from both inside and out, giving him an unusually universal sense of the world. This comes across on Breathe Deep, his solo debut on his own imprint, Ring Records. Breathe Deep is built upon Ring’s Acoustic Folk sound and his love of African Rhythms; melding two distinct sounds into one you won’t forget.

Breathe Deep opens with Go From Here, a great Folk/Americana arrangement. Ring’s bright and airy vocals are a pleasure, making each song go down like sugar water. Go From Here uses great visual imagery to tell a story about navigating the waters of life. What runs deep through Ring’s music is a Christian faith that Ring fails to beat listeners over the head with. It’s not so much like Ring is proselytizing through his music; he’s telling you stories about his life, and that faith happens to be a part of who he is. This may open up Ring’s music to folks who won’t usually go within several yards of a Contemporary Christian CD. And well it should, because even if you don’t agree with Ring’s beliefs you’re going to appreciate his ability as a songwriter and word smith. Plays Switch is rhythmic with cogent lyrics delivered in that easy vocal style that Ring possesses. Chasing Shadows is highly enjoyable; setting a seedy tone from the opening notes that is perfect for the song, which is vaguely bluesy. This is wonderful writing.

Living Water is an overt statement of faith that is stated intelligently without forcing Ring’s ideas on the listener. Consider it like a diary entry set to music. Ring shines here by appealing to thought rather than the shallow emotion that much popular Praise music hooks into. Voices is an amazing song about conscience that is one of the stars of Breathe Deep. Another is One Girl For Me, a sweet love song set to a jazz arrangement. Ring is in perfect voice here. Breathe Deep stays with the jazz flavor in a true crooner moment. Ring saves his best for Eternity, a call to walk together into forever. This could be a song from a creator to the created of from one person to another (as a love song), depending on how you hear it. Either way you hear it the song is inspirational and powerful. Those hearing it as a love song with have it on mix tapes, and those hearing it as a call will be substantially moved. I Am Not A Thief is another powerful entry that extends far beyond its religious connotations. The song is artfully delivered in a folk/rock arrangement you won’t soon forget. Ring closes out Breathe Deep as he started, in a Folk/Americana style on I’m On A Journey. It’s a classic folk song with religious or philosophical implications that is worth contemplating regardless of your perspective.

Readers of this blog have probably picked up on the fact that I can be a little cynical of Contemporary Christian artists, and also that I am not afraid to offer kind words when one overcomes that cynicism. Hiram Ring overcomes it by leaps and bounds. Ring writes and sings music about what he knows, believes, feels and sees. The music is allowed to become what it’s meant to be, artistically mature and intelligent songs that happen to have Christian themes, rather than music slapped together around a forced message. Hiram Ring could easily excel in either CCM or secular markets because the music is honest. Breathe Deep is an incredible listen. It’s a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc, and it’s worth checking out.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Hiram Ring at or, where you can purchase a copy of Breathe Deep. You can also download Breathe Deep through and iTunes.

No comments: