Ryan Star, "Breathe"
On his heartfelt, slow-burning single "Breathe," Ryan Star extends a hand to everyone in need. "Take the world off your shoulders and put it on me," he sings, his voice clenching with veracity. Star catches his own breath during the song's breakdown, singing low and airy over a brooding piano melody. An electric organ kicks in that recalls Bill Withers' "Lean on Me," and while those two songs share the same uplifting theme, Star's is much heavier, its urgency intensified for a different genre and era. The video for "Breathe" cleverly puts the single's lyrics into action, asking potential employers to contact the "real people looking for real jobs" featured in the clip. But visuals are just a bonus to this bright power-rock anthem, which by itself offers plenty to send an inspirational message home.-Sandra Gordon