Word Label Group
Release Date: August 6th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
for KING & COUNTRY have always been a band that are a joy to listen to, and no matter the preference of musical genre, I’m sure, that anyone who hears this infectiously hopeful and poignant duo, are sure to be blessed and encouraged. Relatively new compared to a lot of the CCM pioneers that have shaped what Christian music is today (artists like Switchfoot, Skillet, Carman, Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, to name a few); this duo from Down Under nevertheless have crafted their career in a way that allows the songs they’ve carefully created, to sit with listeners in a reflective way, delving deep within our psyches and challenging the very nature of what we were to believe is true, about ourselves, God, love, life and the rest of it. Joel and Luke have created something special in for KING & COUNTRY, and this is a band that’s certain to make waves, continually in the CCM realm, and now maybe into the mainstream market as well (with the injection of their brand-new song ‘relate’). The band have been a household name for quite some time, ever since their chart-topping song ‘Busted Heart’ hit the radio waves all those years ago, having taken the media, listeners and the whole general CCM industry by storm since their arrival to Word Label Group back in 2011. Relocating to Nashville in the early 1990s as their father pursued a new career opportunity, for KING & COUNTRY have continually focused on powerful instrumentation and anthemic moments of revelation, realisation, and heart, as these songs delivered by this duo, allows us all to declare and proclaim, especially during seasons difficult and trying as what is happening around the world, right now.
Fast forward till 2021, and we’ve seen the duo mature and grow in their musical pursuits. Songs like “Fix My Eyes”, “Busted Heart”, “Middle of Your Heart”, “O God, Forgive Us”, “Messengers” [feat. Lecrae], “It’s Not Over Yet”, and more recently “Ceasefire”, and new songs “Joy” and “Amen” are just some examples of the songs that the band has shown us, and the calibre of them. The band have shown 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.
Earlier on in 2021 saw the release of their expanded album Burn the Ships: Remixes and Collaborations, which featured their 2018 album in full, alongside new songs ‘Together’, ‘Amen Reborn’, two alternate versions of ‘God Only Knows’ (one featuring Echosmith & Timbaland, and the other featuring Dolly Parton), a remix of ‘joy.’ and another remix of ‘Fight On Fighter’. Joel and Luke have created a space in this deluxe version of the album, for us to respond in whatever way we know how, and for us not to be worried about the person to the left or right (in a metaphorical sense), but to focus on ourselves and our response to such thought-provoking songs that we hear. ‘Together’ is a timely reminder to always find ways to connect to our loved ones and friends, as we understand that the only way out, while ‘Amen’ the song, has been able to hit the nail on the head, as we see the importance of agreeing with one another, and being unified in a way of understanding and realising that things need to be done in this world, help needs to be sought if we want to bring healing to people damaged by this last year of 2020 and all that it brought us. ‘God Only Knows’, one of my favourite songs from Burn The Ships, delves into the topic of loneliness and suicide, of uncertainty, fake smiles and depression, that is often swept under the rug when it comes to making songs about it within the Christian music industry; while the band also delivered remix versions of both ‘joy’ and ‘Fight On Fighter’- ‘joy’ encourages us to embody joy within us and be a light shining to the world whenever and whomever we meet, while ‘Fight On, Fighter’ is a keep-on-carrying-on song, a motivational track that can maybe succeed at mainstream radio if the band so choose to send the song there for radio airplay.
So now in August 2021, we see another new song by the duo- ‘RELATE’. Standing at a bit under 3 minutes, both Joel and Luke deliver another compelling song about unity and seeing things from someone else’s perspective. We are living in a society right now where division seems to be aim, on both sides. Maybe intentional, or maybe unintentional, but the fact of the matter remains, that we’ve just been a group of people that is seemingly much more at odds with each other, than usual. And maybe that’s because we’ve just been fed polarising views that we as people seemingly are forced to pick one side over the other. But like it or not, we as people feel as though it’s an ‘us v them’ mentality out there, and that kind of way of viewing the world and viewing people (they’re either with our cause, or totally against it), can be unfortunate for us all. And so ‘RELATE’ allows us all to take a step back and really ponder the questions, of whether this person who is different from us on the surface, is really all that different. Both Joel and Luke have made an unashamed call for us to unify with each other- while there are differences galore, what we do have in common are the experiences we face as humans, and as people who feel the same things we do. What I believe is a firm sequel to Mandisa’s ‘Bleed the Same’, ‘RELATE’ allows us all to focus on what can bring us together rather than what really drives us apart. A song that is enthusiastic and fervently compelling, this duo delivers a song that reminds us all that with God’s grace, mercy and compassion, we can unify with people who are different from us- they may have a different Christian denomination, or they’ll be of a differing gender, socioeconomic status, financial status, or even a geographical one. Whatever the case, humans still feel and bleed, and even if we may be different on every measure we can see with our eyes, I’m sure there is at least one thing, we, and someone else, can relate to. A song that can hopefully allow us to ponder who it is we’re placing assumptions upon (that we think we’re really different from them) when in fact we’re more similar than we release; ‘RELATE’ is the first song from a forthcoming album to be released TBA 2021 (or even 2022), and if this new album by the duo is similar what ‘RELATE’ is right now, then this upcoming album is one to be expectant for. Well done Joel & Luke for this song, can’t wait for the new album, whenever that may be.
‘…’Relate’ is really the ongoing search for compassion and empathy amidst our differences. For us, music has always been about the sense of finding community and connection through the universal language of song. We’re brought together in a beautiful way by that lyric or melody regardless of our backgrounds, differences or where we’re from… As the chorus conveys, ‘I don’t know what it’s like to be you, you don’t know what it’s like to be me, but what if we’re all the same in different kinds of ways, can you relate?’…’
RIYL: Coldplay, OneRepublic, Delirious?, TobyMac, Tenth Avenue North