Release Date: April 18th 2017
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- O God, Forgive Us
For King and Country have been a household name for quite some time, ever since their chart-topping song ‘Busted Heart’ hit the radiowaves all those years ago. Comprised of duo Joel and Luke Smallbone, these younger brothers of fellow CCM songstress Rebecca St. James (who as of now, is currently inactive in music…but you never know, Nichole Nordeman took a break of 10 years, give or take, so there’s still hope Rebecca can still make a ‘comeback’) have taken the media, listeners and the whole general CCM industry by storm since their arrival to Fervent Records back in 2011. Relocating to Nashville in the early 1990s as their father pursued a new career opportunity, for KING AND COUNTRY has been touted many times as the Aussie version of Coldplay- with a focus more on unique instrumentation and anthemic moments of revelation, realisation and just plain powerful songs full of rousing declaration and proclamation. This surmising of both the public and the critics was fairly spot on with the introduction of Crave in 2012, which garnered them success and a Dove Award Nomination in 2013 (for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year).
Fast forward 5 years and we’ve seen the duo mature and grow into a household name. Songs like “Fix My Eyes”, “Shoulders”, “Middle of Your Heart”, “Proof of Your Love”, “It’s Not Over Yet”, and more recently “Priceless” and “Ceasefire” are just some examples of the songs that the band has shown us, and the calibre of them. The band has managed to show us what it means to succeed in the CCM industry, while still delivering engaging and thoughtful melodies that encourage us to see and look beyond ourselves, as we challenge the status quo and ask ourselves the continuing question- ‘why’ and ‘why should this be if I don’t agree with the way that it is now’? Topics like self worth, identity, the human condition, and man’s relationship with the creator and the created, are some of the messages scattered through these songs, and this is still, and considerably, true of their current radio single at the moment, “O God Forgive Us” (feat. KB).
Originally taken from their 2014 album Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong (re-released in 2015 with a few re-recordings, alongside new songs “Priceless”, “Wholehearted” and “Ceasefire”), “O God Forgive Us” stands at 3:26, and places us at the firm centre of this piano led anthem that reminds us all of how much we need to ask for forgiveness from both the Lord and our fellow man, almost on a daily basis. A powerful prayer of solace, both Joel and Luke offer us a manta and mandate to always focus on, aligning our hearts to be on the same page as the Father in this life called ‘being a Christian’. Because frankly, we are a bunch who tend to get side-tracked, most, if not all the time. We focus a lot on what we want to accomplish, compared to what the Lord longs to come to fruition. Or rather, we start on our journeys with good intentions, focusing on what we believe the Lord wants us to undertake, yet somewhere along the line, we’ve made it all about doing the work, settling into the mundane, and often forgetting why we’re working in the first place.
The addition of the KB bridge is a nice touch, and it is his spoken word that really enhances the track the most- Yes, we have ignored You, so busy doing Your work that we forgot that this was for You, arms wide to our homeless Savior, but arms crossed to our homeless neighbour, on bended knee, unite us all, set us free– sobering, this spoken word verse, isn’t it? But can this really be true, that at times we can focus all our energy on the Lord and what we think He wants, and even involuntarily neglect our fellow man? Quite possibly. We get busy very quickly in this society, and this song is a timely reminder for us to consciously always come back to the reason behind it all. If we’re loving our God, yet often forgetting the needs of our fellow Christians (or even people we surround ourselves with, who aren’t Christians, in a daily basis), then something needs to change. For KING AND COUNTRY’s track hopefully provides such change in respect to how we ought to live, not just now, but in the months and even years to come!
If there was an award for ‘Emerging CCM band of the decade’, these men from down under would certainly receive it hands down; just like how Building 429 would receive it the decade before, and dcTalk (or would it be Newsboys, Jars of Clay or Third Day?) the decade before that. Joel and Luke Smallbone of the Aussie duo have continued to pave the way and show listeners, critics and musicians alike what it means to be a successful CCM band and have mainstream success in the process. While never wavering on their stance to share hope from a standpoint of God embodying the very essence of what hope and love are, it’s their new single “O God Forgive Us” that challenges me the most in my own faith of late, and how I ought to live out my life focusing on the Lord and what He longs for me to accomplish, but still at the same time never turning a blind eye to the prevalent issues facing my own ‘backyard’.
If I were to pick a band to listen to if you haven’t heard any Christian band within the last 5 years, I’d pick for KING AND COUNTRY in a heartbeat. With so much passion, zeal, heart, emotion, enthusiasm, and everything else you can think of if you think of the word “vulnerability”; these brothers from down under have worn their heart on their sleeves with “O God, Forgive Us”. While this song is a re-release (with the addition of KB) of their track on their 2014 album Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong, it is the message behind the song, that continues to assert the album’s relevance to listeners, even years later. The song is a must for any for KING AND COUNTRY music collector, or anyone who loves CCM/pop and wants to hear something different from anything heard on the radio this year thus far. Well done Joel and Luke for such a compelling song. Can’t wait til album #3 whenever it comes!
3 songs to listen to: O God Forgive Us x 3, first without KB, and then with!
RIYL: Coldplay, Switchfoot, Lifehouse, Tenth Avenue North, Delirious?