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I’ve recently been introduced to David Ramirez via NoiseTrade . He sonorous tone often belies the gritty message he brings. One of the blurbs you’ll see on Mr. Ramirez is this quote from Civil Wars:  “Soulful, stirring, heartbreaking.” Now, at first blush, you might think this is artists supporting and encouraging another, nothing more. I certainly planned to be underwhelmed. Not so much. First we are talking Joy Williams & John Paul White; I doubt they play that game. Second, it’s simply true. His work takes one’s breath; when I came to give a quick listen, I was drawn in deeper and deeper into his powerful voice and compelling songs. It’s a little like living in an alternate universe where you hear Bob Dylan for the first time and he can sing and sing well.

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To get just a brief glimpse into this singer and songwriter, let’s look at The Fire of Time on The Rooster:

But you remind me who I was and who I want to be
You remind me that though not whole, I’m not empty
There are things I lost in the fire of time
Things I thought, again I’ll never see
But when it’s hard for me to recall my name
You remind me

You’ve been quick to dismiss all my apologies
My confessions seem to only waste your time
I thought grace was in the clouds among the heavenly
But now it’s staring me right in the eyes

You remind me who I was and who I want to be
You remind me that though not whole, I’m not empty
There are things I lost in the fire of time
Things I though, again I’ll never see
But when it’s hard for me to recall my name
You remind me

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Who have we let know that they are so valued with our words, our looks, our tone and our actions? Mr. Ramirez’s site, in describing his work, comes back again and again to the themes of honesty and integrity. For example, on his “About” page, we see “A man and his guitar…honest, unfiltered and true. …Ramirez isn’t working to top the charts. He just wants to tell the truth.” I think I would, audaciously, put this differently: Mr. Ramirez can’t help being vulnerable, raw and honest in his music making, despite the fact that he wouldn’t mind a few weeks topping the charts. He bares his soul and ours. Another example of this is:

The Forgiven (also on Rooster):

They love me for being honest
They love me for being myself
But the minute I mention Jesus
They want me to go to Hell

It’s hard to find the balance
When I don’t believe in one
When you mix art with business
You’re just shooting an empty gun

You’re just a songwriter, you ain’t a preacher
We came to mourn you, not to look in the mirror
Sing about those hard times, sing about those women
We love the broken, not the forgiven

It does often seem that the world wants to tolerate everything but Christianity. Mr. Ramirez has the double-whammy of secular folks who don’t want to hear it whilst not fitting within the narrow range of mainstream contemporary christian music. Indeed, in a world of musical genres and sub-genres (he’s typically pegged as Alternative Rock or Folk), Mr. Ramirez comes in as a breath of fresh air in the midst of so many who sound alike and sing off the same sheet. You won’t see too many CCM artists singing:

So I traded in my pew for a bar stool
Trying to find redemption in the mind of the youth
We’d sit tall with our cigarettes and disheveled uniforms
Oh I never, no I never saw the Lord
  • An Introduction on Apologies

He displays that raw honesty that is so hard to bare to others. He is willing to show his faith and struggles therein. The starkly beautiful and challenging song writing is coupled with a voice whose tone is clear yet contains grittiness that befits such raw honesty.

This same approach to reflecting true lives seems to be taken in the movie Between Notes where he performed with the lovely Summer Ames, Becky Middleton and others. The soundtrack is amazing.

With that I’ll leave you with another perspective on and an interview with Mr. Ramirez: http://newslangtakeover.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/new-slanged-david-ramirez/

and a glimpse that seems to capture his music well:

Mr. Ramirez has toured with: http://noahgundersenmusic.com/

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