American Songwriter recently raving that they are “Australia’s answer to Coldplay,” Australian duo for KING & COUNTRY (Joel and Luke) are proving to be one of the most exciting debut acts of the year. The brothers continue to gain momentum as they set the release of their debut record, Crave, available everywhere February 28.
The 11-track debut, CRAVE, infuses for KING & COUNTRY’s multi-talented musicianship with creative, insightful lyrics and ear-grabbing melodies. The album includes the emotionally powerful track, “Light It Up” which was written by the duo about a close friend who suffered from depression. CRAVE also features “People Change” and “Love’s To Blame,” both of which made prominent television spotlights earlier this year on The CW’s hit show, “Vampire Diaries.”
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The New Kings of the Christian Music Country| Posted May 21, 2012
Rebecca St. James made herself a household name in CCM during the '90s, but until recently, her younger brothers remained securely out of the spotlight. As Joel and Luke, the duo broke into the music business and built themselves a small, but loyal following. Now, with a name change to For King and Country, and an opening slot on Winter Jam--giving them a vast platform for exposure--and a fantastic debut with Crave, the duo are poised to take contemporary Christian music by storm.
With a consistent upbeat pop/rock sound that would make mainstream counterparts like The Fray jealous, For King and Country wastes no time proving that they have what it takes to become the next big thing.
Opening the album with the catchy "Light it Up," the duo offer a radio-ready hit full of encouragement against depression and despair, singing in the rousing chorus, "Light it up and let it go, don't you see that you are not alone, light it up and watch it fly, 'cause you can go anywhere you want tonight." The track proves to be an instant highlight and gives a fine preview of the things to come.
Before the title track has a chance to find from your mind, the band breaks into the orchestra-backed "Proof of Your Love" and dazzles on an even deeper level with what could be the strongest track on the album. With a plea to God to help us live like Him, the track urgently resonates with a deep passion: "So let my life be the proof, the proof of Your love. Let my love look like You and what You're made of. How You lived, how You died, Love is sacrifice."
After two good tracks, one would expect something at least less stellar, but the band keeps it coming with the fierce "Missing" and the moving lead-single "Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)." Both tracks offer their own unique goodness and passionate lyrics and keep adding to the brilliance that is this album.
"People Change" slows things down just a little, but not in a bad way. With a quiet orchestral backing and a quiet chorus, the track is effectively pulled off and gives just a little breather to the album's destined-to-be-signature passionate choruses. (But by no means is this track's chorus anything less than stellar.)
Things get back to the infectiously upbeat with the middle track of the album, "The Middle of Your Heart." From the first second, this feels like a song destined to be played on radio, even possibly mainstream radio since its lyrics could be interpreted differently depending on one's convictions. Still, the track never feels "watered down" in the slightest. With a melody rivaling anything on pop radio, the track proudly sings, "So take me to the middle of your heart, lead me to wherever your love starts, to a new day dawning, to the place you are."
By this point in the album, it's clear that this band isn't a one-song-wonder and they aren't getting lucky with a string of a few good tracks. They are the real deal!
The remainder of the album proves to continue the band's moving melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. While the band's best tracks are arguably in the first half of the album, there's plenty to love in the second half. Upbeat foot-movers "Fine, Fine, Life" and "Pushing on a Pull Door" are pop gems and "Love's To Blame", "Sane" and "Crave" offer softer, but no less moving ballads to show that this band can pretty much master both ends of the pop market. By the time the album's concluding message of "hope's what we crave" fades out, you can't help but sit back and feel like you've just had a truly rare and uplifting musical experience.
Finding bands able to produce an album jam-packed with memorable tunes is becoming very rare these days. To find a band like For King and Country who proves that they can strike that amazing sweet spot between fresh and original and radio-ready, and then proceed to release an entire album full of these tracks, is truly an exciting find and puts the brothers in a very elite musical club.
Crave is destined to be a classic and will hopefully prove to have legs and land on many year-end lists despite its early release. When a band comes along with an album this good, they're definitely worth keeping around for the long haul.
One of the Best Debut Projects in Years!| Posted February 12, 2012
SARAH FINE FOR KING AND COUNTRY Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
For some, music is something they discover with time--something they can use as a way of expressing who they are, who they’ve been and what they believe. For others, such as brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, music is something that is embedded into their DNA.
If their faces look familiar to the Christian music fan, it’s mostly likely because they’ve seen them before. Having grown up in a musical home with father, acclaimed producer David Smallbone, their sister is none other than award winning female vocalist Rebecca St. James. Both men traveled with their sister for a number of years as they sang back-up vocals for her on tour. Right around the time Rebecca announced a break from music, Joel and Luke, both now seasoned veterans, began to treading into their own musical waters, touring under the name, well, Joel and Luke.
They sang as an independent duo for a number of years before inking a deal with Word Records in 2011. Wanting to avoid confusion that had been circulating around their name, the guys decided to switch things up a bit by re-branding themselves For King & Country.
“The history of that phrase is that back in the olden days, the British would go into battle shouting, chanting, ‘For King and Country,’ sort of as an anthem of fighting for something that they believed wholeheartedly in,” says Luke. “We all looked at each other in the studio and we just knew that was it.”
Already gaining widespread attention as an opening act on the 2012’s Winter Jam tour, the brothers’ first single, “Busted Heart (Hold On To Me),” has topped the charts on several Christian radio stations, and evoked what has become a dedicated fan base awaiting a full-length release. That need soon would be met by the release of their debut project, Crave.
“We want to be known for writing music that is authentic, real and from the heart,” says Joel of the album. “There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into this record and what spurred us on is this whole idea that we can make a difference.”
The album begins with the melodic and U2-like “Light It Up” and transitions nicely into the string fronted “The Proof Of Your Love,” pulling directly from 1 Corinthians 13 which states that without love, the things we do mean nothing.
The chaotic rock tune “Missing” speaks of the of the sting of lost love and will no doubt go down as a fan favorite with it‘s eerie and memorable composition. “Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)”is the duo’s first hit single and is the standout track on this record. It comes from a place of utter brokenness and finding yourself at rock bottom, asking God, the only one who can pick us up, to come down and make us whole again. A fantastic song with seamless vocal harmonies from Joel and Luke.
“People Change” follows along the line of “Missing,” only this time, this story of lost love has a happier ending with the moral that even the hardest and most stubborn heart can change for the better. “Middle Of Your Heart” is a catchy tune of surrendering your life unto God and yet again highlights the musical creativity found in this group’s music. I’d love to hear this as the next radio single.
“Love’s To Blame” is a about selfless love, and how sometimes, loving someone means letting them go even if we don’t want to. “Fine Fine Life” is a ridiculously catchy tune about the personal and public tragedies found in society, and how quickly we can forget how beautiful life is when we don’t put Jesus first. There is no doubt you’ll walk away with the song stuck in your head.
Both Joel and Luke--much like their sister Rebecca--are outspoken activists on the topic of sexual purity, sharing that message in the song “Sane,” about someone who has crossed the lines and compromised themselves, coming to the conclusion that they can be made whole again and set free when they run to God and embrace His forgiveness. It sends a wonderful and much-needed message in our culture.
“Pushing On A Pulling Door” is written from God’s perspective speaking to His children, telling them to stop trying to control their own lives and let Him take over. The album finally comes to a conclusion with the moving ballad and album namesake, “Crave.” Referring to hope as a woman figure, it talks about how we are always trying to find her and how only she is what will help us to live and love again after past mistakes. It’s unorthodox to say the least, but sends a powerful message nonetheless: “It’s written on my soul, hope is what we crave.”
Closing Thoughts: Alternative pop isn’t an easy genre to tackle. It easily can be seen as being too upbeat or too edgy. In the case of For King & Country however, that couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Granted, it’s heavier than your average pop record, but somewhere in the midst of the meaty musical depth, there is an eminent beam of hope shining from the lyrics--whether they are about the sting of a broken relationship or the redemption found in God’s grace.
Crave is hands-down one of the best debut projects I’ve heard from a group in years. Creative, poignant and moving, it comes from a very raw place of heartache and hope, never backing down from the honest truth, yet never shying away from the restoration found in Christ. Musically, it’s unlike anything in the genre right now. Haunting, playful and deep all at once, it could quite easily beat out many of its mainstream counterparts. Joel and Luke have completely won me over, and when you hear this album for yourself, you‘ll understand why. This is an extremely bright start for one best new acts in CCM and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
A truly great album| Posted October 30, 2014
This was a terrific album by For king and Country. It shocked me a little because I wasn't used to Christian music like this. It's full of passion, despair, love. This is truly an amazing album. I reccomend it for any Christian music lover. This is a powerful album. The highlights were: "Light it up", "The proof of your love", "Missing", "People change", "Busted Heart(hold onto me)", and finally my favorite track "Fine Fine Life". Such an amazing album.
Excellent!| Posted July 03, 2012
I absolutely love For King & Country's CD Crave. The songs are all very well written and I love their artistic style. The song "Proof of Your Love" is phenomenal. It is so true, every word. Love is the most important thing. This CD is definitely worth buying.
"Crave" by For King & Country| Posted June 21, 2012
For King & Country are a group that came out of the blue and is easily one of my favorite new artist of the year. They are Rebecca St. James brothers Luke and Joel. This album discusses the transition from a life that desires the flesh and craves the pleasures and values of the world into the Christian life and fruitful path that we have with hope , peace and joy. Check the book of Ecclesiastes if you are struggling with letting go of possesions that may become idols where we turn away from the word some and things like that. Solomon is the author of Ecclesiastes and this book out of God's word represents this album best.
The Meanings behind the songs:
1. Light It Up - Light It Up is a song that discusses the things we have to let go of in life , whether it be posessions we have to sacrifice to God to have a better relationship with him or just letting go of the sin that lies within our hearts. " Every creatures fate is there's and there's alone" - On the day of judgement all of us will die different ways. Luke and Joel want to bring to notice in the Christian community that our actions and life reflects how we are going to die when judgement comes in Revelations. We can choose whether we want to chase the lusts, pleasures , envies , greed , and self-ambition , self-mortification of the world.
2. The Proof Of Your Love - Anything that we do that isn't for the Lord has no meaning at all. If we donate to charity for example but feel forced to and have no passion in it then it isn't true love. All of our lives need to reflect God's love in how we treat others. If we feel forced to help others but do not do it with compassion and love then it is meaningless.
3. Missing is a song that describes our seperation from God when the wind pushes us back in the cycle of our life and we return to our own ways and actions. " They said we never would survive" - The world thinks that sin cannot be conquered but we as Christians know sin can be defeated just by asking God to remove whatever struggle we are going through. This song is the most upbeat , true and inspirational out of the album. It covers themes of Redemption , God's Mercy , Hope for this generation dispite hard times of waiting for God to return. Sometimes until we return to our own ways we don't realize why God protects us from returning to our old life.
4. Busted Heart is there number 1 single right now. We all have moments in our life where we feel like our heart is dying due to our flesh taking over. This song covers themes of embrace , returning to God , and it is also a testimony of For King & Country. We all have a " Busted Heart" because we have times where we drift away from God's mercy and we chase the wind and things of the wind such as Satan's feelings of lusts , greed , ambition , denial , despair etc...
5. People Change is a simple song describing how when people ask us how we are doing we usually say we are alright but really we are not. People change and this is a song where the band discusses how so many people's ways change when they are in the arms of the Lord on there spiritual journey. After people accept God as there saviour they never are the same as they once were.
6. Pushing On A Pull Door is the deepest and most symbolic song on this album. The door represents the gateway or bridge between us and God. We try to enter through one door but then it winds us back due to our flesh's evil desires. Through our journey and struggles in life, it is like pushing a door and falling flat on our face again learning from our mistakes and God picks us back up to keep going and advancing through our jouney to be more intimate and true to him.
The Last song I want to discuss here is Crave - this is the overall theme of the album itself where we are all chasing for hope and ends the transition between us leaving our flesh and giving up our desires and/or possesions we want and have for our selfish-ambition. Sometimes we may feel like we need to run away from our problems , but we cannot hide because God sees everything. Instead, we should confront it first hand and repent anytime we are aware of any of the least or any of the most sins broken in God's law and word.
Overall: This album will go in my nominees for Best Alternative Rock album of the year and best Album of the year. For King & Country bring alot to the Christian music community and world that is missing. Some lyrics just lack that deepness and passion, healing through the various struggles of life that people need to hear everyday and week to help them feel Redemption , Hope and Joy.
Overall Score: 5/5 - An absolute suprise this year from Luke and Joel , that bring something fresh , new and a fantastic sound like Coldplay that brings a overabundance of peace and redemption to the table and to the Christian market.
My 11 year old daughter and I recently had our first experience with For King and Country at Winter Jam. As we stood outside waiting to go into the bulding they came out and set up some instruments and played a couple of songs from thier new CD, Crave. Excellent show and EXCELLENT album. Luckily enough we were able to purchase a copy of the CD that night at their merch table and have been totally enjoying it! Great lyrics and sound. I look forward to more from these brothers!
4/5| Posted February 27, 2012
Australian duo For King and Country really make an impact on their debut album Crave. Their unique sound could be compared to the likes of Coldplay and The Fray. The songs on this album are memoriable in how catchy and unique they are. I would say that this is so far the strongest debut album for any band or artist this year. Take a listen to it if you like bands like The Fray or Coldplay.