I’ve been a long time fan of this duo of Australian born brothers, Joel and Luke Smallbone, and any fan will tell you, this new EP has been a long time coming. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these guys, they are the brothers of Christian music veteran, Rebecca St. James, whose music was a staple for me growing up. Both Joel and Luke sang back up for Rebecca for years until they decided to start making music of their own. They released their first EP, “A Tale of Two Towns” back in 2008 under their own names, Joel and Luke. But after much deliberation… not to mention having to constantly explain that their own names were their band name; they decided on a new moniker. Enter, For King & Country… but I must admit, I’ve known them as J&L for far too long and cannot seem to get used to the new name lol. For King & Country just released their 5 song self-titled EP in September on Word Records to much fan anticipation.
The EP is full of what the guys like to call their “'International-Pop-Rock sound”; which actually describes it perfectly! The song "Light It Up” starts things off with a soft piano-based pop sound that leads into a soaring 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." Next up, is the first single from the EP, “Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)”, which is currently receiving quite a bit of airplay on Christian radio. With a piano-pop/rock sound and a chorus that sounds dynamic even though the lyric may be simplistic, “Hold on to me. Don’t let me lose my way. Hold on to me.” A prayerful song for the broken hearted who are “desperate for grace”. My personal favorite off the EP, “Fine Fine Life” instantly caught my attention. The song opens with an almost Native American sounding flute and flows into an airy pop song that you cannot help but move along to. This is a catchy tune that sticks in your head; really hoping this will be a future single. The post breakup ballad “People Change” finds the guys crooning about changing and making things right in a broken relationship; “Will you be there if I call? Will you leave me in the rain? If I say it’s all my fault will you still walk away? I understand if you’re afraid but people change.”
Speaking of breakup songs, the guys close the EP with a real heartbreaker. My sister won’t even let me listen to this song when she’s around because it makes her cry lol (sorry sis, had to add that :p). “Love’s To Blame”, which was first featured on their EP “A Tale of Two Towns”, is a ballad about lost love. The song starts with dramatic strings and flows into soft piano and Joel’s beautiful vocals. I love how it starts soft and builds with power in all the right places. You can hear the vulnerability and emotion in Joel’s voice as he sings the lyrics, "I'm still missing you but it has to be this way cause I'm not right for you. And that's why love's to blame. And I can't see you right now cause I just can't fake it. Can't be near you right now cause I know you're no longer mine." This tune has garnered a lot of attention for the guys as it was featured on an episode of “Vampire Diaries”. It’s definitely a stand out track and perfect way to close the EP.
For King & Country have crafted an EP full of piano-based pop/rock and beautiful ballads with dynamic choruses. The guys, who share lead vocal duties, have strong and soaring vocals with just a touch of their Australian accents peaking through. The only question this EP leaves you asking is, when are we getting a full length?? ;)
You can currently catch the guys opening for The Winter Jam tour and soon on the “The Purity and Worship Tour" with their sister, Rebecca. Joel and Luke share in Rebecca’s outspoken stance on purity and have been known to share this message, along with the way women should be treated, from the stage. It’s such a rare thing to see that I just can’t help but mention it; it kinda makes me respect the heck out of them :). So be sure to catch these guys on tour and check out this EP!
To purchase this EP, click here
Below is a live performance of their current single, “Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)” -