Our Hearts Hero made their debut in 2007 as the latest addition to the Gotee Records roster. Following their highly acclaimed self-titled debut project, the band went on to tour extensively over the next several years, playing more than 150 shows in less than 12 months (for those of you keeping track at home, that‘s almost half a year out on the road.)
After what seemed like an endless musical absence aside from their hectic touring schedule, the group, made up of members Nick (lead vocals), Benji (guitar), Jeremy (drums), Jacob (bass) and Cody (guitar), finally made their return to the music scene in late 2011 with the release of their much anticipated Christmas record, Love Is Breathing.
The joyful holiday parade of tunes starts of with “Glow,” the band’s rock-driven take on the Christmas classic “Angels We Have Heard On High.” A trait you will immediately see running though this record are the quirky song-titles, often cut down to a single word from the song being sung. It can become confusing when trying to figure out what’s coming next, but at the same time, offers you a great deal of surprise.
“Bells,” a.k.a. the holiday classic “Carol Of The Bells,” takes on new life in the hands of Our Hearts Hero. This personally being one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, I hold every version of it to an extremely high standard, and not only has this band met that standard, they’ve possibly surpassed it. Gritty guitars matched with chilling vocal harmonies make for what is hands-down the best song on the album, giving the listener something to look forward to as they go on.
The bouncy and punk inspired “Magi” takes the tale of “We Three Kings” and spins it into their own wacky tale of worship and unwavering hope, while “Town,” their version of, you guessed it, “O Little Town Of Bethlehem,” becomes a rocker’s dream. Crashing drums, distorted guitars, all the bells and whistles that would make any rock ensemble proud. Yet somehow, the soft and delicate message of the song never gets lost in the madness surrounding it, and makes it an unexpectedly enjoyable experience.
The album’s title track, “Love Is Breathing,” is primarily driven by a dark piano melody. It’s a touching tale written from the viewpoint of those who were able to see Jesus the night He was born, being amongst the first to witness love come to life. It’s reminder as to why we celebrate Christmas and highlights this band’s ability to make music that packs a punch not only musically, but lyrically as well.
“Joy” (“Joy To The World”), is a booming and melodic rock masterpiece, while “Away,” becomes a delightfully acoustic folk infused moment of solid praise and worship to the newborn Savior. “Lord,” their version of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” is sure to get you jumping, and becomes the most unique of all the restructured arraignments on this record.
“Hark” might be the only song on the entire album that, melodically, sounds like it could be found on a Christmas project, and brings to mind a David Crowder Band feel with its upbeat and underlying electronica vibe. This style seems to suit vocalist Nick Joyce’s vocals well and it would be interesting to hear them tinker with that style more in the future.
The album finally comes to a close with the stirring delivery of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” aptly titled “Come.” It becomes an open and beautiful moment of worship and elevates a timeless holiday classic to new heights. It’s a fantastic way to end this project, and does so on a high note.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when coming into this album. As someone who wasn’t too familiar with Our Hearts Hero’s previous work, I wasn’t convinced an album made up of primarily punk/rock renditions of Christmas classics would work. In this case however, I was more than happy to be wrong.
Love Is Breathing is a Christmas album that fans of the holiday genre, both Christian and secular alike, would be proud to add to their collection. Sometimes edgy, sometime whimsical, this album brings the perfect combination of both rock and worship, and never loses its Christmas minded core in the process. It is by NO means conventional, and will most likely be appalling to Christmas music purists, but for those looking for a good alternative, better yet, a God-centered alternative to what’s being offered musically this time of year, you’ve found your match.