The duo for King & Country, composed of brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, fill the new Burn The Ships album with plenty of worshipful songs. These two are, after all, contemporary Christian music artists, and so much of today’s Christian radio airplay is contingent upon worshipful lyrical content. There is more, however, to the songs on this album than just the semi-required ‘safe for the whole family’ material. Additionally, much of this lyrical matter is relevant, whether one shares for King & Country’s Christian beliefs or not.
When the pair sing, “So flush the pills, face the fear,” these are words one could just as easily imagine coming out of Demi Lovato’s mouth, or any other performer fighting chemical dependency. Yet that’s just what Luke’s wife Courtney was dealing with, after her doctor prescribed medication to help alleviate nausea during her pregnancy.
Both spouses join to form an ABBA-esque quartet for “Pioneers,” creating a group effort. Another song, titled “Hold Her,” a moving ballad that could easily be taken as a prayer for Courtney and her struggles. “Is it ever gonna be brighter?” the song asks, desperately seeking an explanation from God.
“God Only Knows” admits that there are some human experiences God alone understands. This vulnerable admission helps us better trust for King & Country’s sincerity. They’re not merely blowing smoke like they’re some kind of know-it-alls. It also makes them so much more approachable. Let’s not forget: Even the most devoted Christian has far more faith than concrete answers, most days. And that’s okay.
Modern Christian music takes a lot of heat from critics, and too many times rightfully so. Too much of it is simplistic, repetitive propaganda, really. Therefore, whenever an act produces a collection of songs that ask difficult questions, avoids overly repeated lyrical lines and speaks straight from the heart, instead of sounding like it’s attempting to sell us a bill of goods, we should take note and extol the work’s virtues.
Even one called “Joy,” a plea for God to pour out the joy of His salvation, finds the act struggling to experience contentment among so many common joy-stealers, such as all the negative stories on the nightly news. The song includes the singing of the old children’s song, “Joy I My Heart,” but when it’s sung here, it’s done so with more than a smidge of melancholy. It’s clearly not the Sunday school version.
Everything on this effort adds up to a believable testimony, which is really all we can ask of music made by Christians.