MUSIC: for KING & COUNTRY – “Burn the Ships” Review

Only in the past year have I had the pleasure of listening to for KING & COUNTRY. I had heard of them once or twice before, but had never actually sat down and listened to any of their music. I go through phases with the music I listen to. Generally, there are a couple bands/artists that I listen to on a consistent basis (Johnny Cash, NEEDTOBREATHE, and Creedance Clearwater Revival, to name a few), but for the most part I purchase new music every month and stick with it for a while until I find something else or inevitably go back through old music from my library. I believe music is an incredible form of storytelling that not only has the potential to share a heart-felt message or convey a powerful idea, but also relate on a deep, emotional and spiritual level with the listener.

But that’s a-whole-nother article or podcast altogether.

I became a huge fan of for KING & COUNTRY after I heard the song “Priceless” from the film they were a-part of making based on a true story of human trafficking, also entitled Priceless. I bought the deluxe version of their second album, “Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.”, and it quickly became one of my favorite albums to listen to and it’s often one I’m drawn back to on a weekly basis. I went back and listened to their debut album, “Crave”, and, while I didn’t love it as much as their second outing, I was impressed. So when the Australian duo announced their next album, “Burn the Ships”, and their first single, “joy.”, was released, it’s safe to say that I was ecstatic.

“Burn the Ships” is a roaringly passionate, honest, and compelling album that soothes the soul and reminds one of their worth, their value, and their Creator. The Smallbone brothers alternative/soft rock sound is terribly consistent and can either throw you into a mode of dance (“joy.” & “Amen”), somber reflection/encouragement (“God Only Knows” & “Pioneers”), or call to arms (“Burn the Ships” & “Fight on Fighter”). “Control” seems to fit into the both the latter categories.

The instrumental-only “Introit” leads us mysteriously into the rest of the album, right into summer single “joy.”, which always seems to get me excited, especially while driving, and put me into a – dare I say – joyous mood. Or rather, as the song implies, encourages me to choose a joyful mood over one of discouragement or frustration. “God Only Knows”, certainly one of the two biggest stand-outs on this album (the other being the titular track), is a most powerful, soulful, and non-traditional “love song” that just about any human being who has ever lived needs to hear, that they might understand that “God only knows what we’ve been through” and what others say about us, but regardless of all of it chooses to love us. Who doesn’t need to hear that?

“Amen” is a merry, upbeat tune that is fun to sing along to, while “Burn the Ships”, the second of the two big “stand-outs” tracks, acts as almost as a “call to arms”, asking us to consider leaving our past, shame, addictions, and sin behind and dare to “step into a new day”, reminding us that we are born again. It’s no wonder this track’s title was chosen to be the title of the album as well. “Fight on Fighter” also acts as a “call to arms” type song, challenging us to continue to fight even when all we want to do is give up. Normally, when albums have two or more songs that have seemingly the same message, it’s often a turn off for me, but for KING & COUNTRY has proven time and time again their ability to share the same message in different ways (whether it be by tone, lyrics, or vocal range) and still sound different.

Other tracks such as “Need You More”, “Never Give Up”, and “Hold Her” (almost-vaguely thematically reminiscent of “Love’s to Blame” from their first album, and yet clearly different and more heartfelt) are welcomed additions to the for KING & COUNTRY catalog, though the true gems of the second half of the album are “Control” and “Pioneers”. The first, “Control” is a vitally important part of this album, though I believe often over-looked, due to it’s clear proposition to submit yourself to God and His plan over our own, reminding us that we can’t get through this life on our own.

Lastly, “Pioneers (feat. Moriah & Courtney)” is an earnest and powerful ballad between Joel & Luke Smallbone and their respective, and incredibly talented, wives Moriah Peters (a recording artist herself) & Courtney Helm (who joined the band on “Without You”, a track off their second album). “Pioneers” seems to be about husbands and wives coming back together after being apart, be it physically, emotionally, or spiritually (who’s to say?),  and solidifies the idea of covenant relationship, thus ending the album.

“Burn the Ships” is excites, moves, challenges, and encourages the listener to remember who God is, what Christ has done for you, and who He has made you to be, all the while being a fun and joyful experience. I highly recommend this album, make sure you check it out if you haven’t already. Man I’ve got to get these two on the podcast…


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