Let for King & Country Take You Into the Silent Night
Posted September 23, 2013
By JJFrancesco_NRT, Staff Reviewer
It's that time of year again; autumn is starting, the temperature is dropping, the nights are getting longer, and all of the Christmas products are being released. It's not just your talking Santas and pre-lit trees in department stores, but the new Christmas-themed movie and music releases are also going to be dropping little by little as the 2013 calendar winds down.
Christmas music releases have become such a staple of the industry that you can bet that in any given year, a lot of high-profile artists are going to be releasing some Christmas-themed projects. And this is especially true for the Christian music market, where Christmas is more than just a season to cash in on sentiment and goodwill. For what the secular world often forgets, Christians tend to be better at remembering: that this season isn't about any of the accessories but rather about the birth of a little baby boy who, some 33 years later, would be nailed to a cross to redeem us of our sin.
As a result, while most of the secular Christmas releases fade into footnotes after a year or two, Christian Christmas releases tend to have a little more staying power in their respective markets. Still, lately, it seems like Christmas releases of some sort are becoming more and more obligatory and thus, even in the Christian market, there's been a trend towards cranking out a Christmas album that doesn't offer much in the way of memorable musical offerings.
So when an artist does release a collection of Christmas tunes that offers the promise of meriting annual plays throughout every December, it's becoming a truly noteworthy and praiseworthy thing. With that in mind, we arrive at the Christmas EP from the duo that is taking Christian radio by storm these past two years, for King & Country, titled Into The Silent Night.
The brothers of famed CCM singer Rebecca St. James have made quite a name for themselves with hits like "Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)" and "The Proof of Your Love." Also, last Christmas season, they released a very well received Christmas single in the form of original tune, "Baby Boy." The song did well on Christian radio and even found its way onto the band's recently released live album. That song seems to be the cornerstone of this release, appearing in both studio and live versions. The song is definitely among a small handful of original Christmas tunes that truly have the potential to become classics.
More than just a peppy holiday offering, the song reminds us that it was a baby boy who came to save us, and it's a baby boy that we celebrate at Christmas. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the Christmas routine that it's easy to forget to step back in awe at our Savior coming to earth not as a warrior on a warhorse but as a baby in a bed of straw. The song's passionate bridge stands as one of the most memorable lyrical and musical moments of any Christmas release of the past few years: "See, the King is coming down / And He's here without a crown / The Baby Boy without a bed / Giving life back to the dead / And hear the angels shout it out / As the people come and bow / Unexpected majesty / Alleluia, what a King!"
Apparently fueled by the success of that song, the band recorded three more Christmas tunes to make up this year's EP. Another original serves as the title track. While "Baby Boy" focuses on epic harmonies and soaring choruses, "Into The Silent Night" is a more refined and intimate approach. Intricate bells and Christmassy sounds polish off this Christmas love-song which proclaims, "sun and rain / life and change / but through it all love remains."
As the song sings of going "into the silent night / with you by my side / joy in a lonesome world / for this boy and girl / angels celebrate / as we stand face to face / with God's gift tonight," one is reminded of the need to not isolate ourselves in our observance of Christmas but rather to celebrate Christ's birth with those precious people he has placed in our lives.
The EP also offers two covers of traditional Christmas carols, which is a standard on most Christmas releases. While much of the time, these covers tend to be forgettable filler done the same way countless artists have done it before, the Smallbone brothers have managed to breathe new life into each of the tracks with their signature pop style.
"Angels We Have Heard On High" seems to fit right in with the brothers' musical strengths, and it's even treated to a new bridge as "come adore on bended knee / Christ the Lord, the newborn King" is given the classic fK&C chant treatment. "Little Drummer Boy" seems a fitting complement to "Baby Boy" and it's not surprise when it's turned into a rather epic musical anthem.
In an age where the market is saturated with forgettable and predictable Christmas tunes, it's truly refreshing to see a release that is not only musically memorable and enjoyable from start to finish, but one that also manages to keep Christ the prime focus throughout. Granted, this is much easier to do with a four- or five-song EP than with a full-length Christmas album.
But I have high hopes that if for King & Country ever do decide to try their hand at a full-length Christmas release, it'll turn out just as good as this EP did. This is one Christmas release you don't have to think twice about adding to your regular Christmas rotation.
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