It's A Fine, Fine Life | Posted August 16, 2013 Staff Reviewer
It takes some bands years to achieve the level of industrial respect the men of for KING & COUNTRY have attained. Yet in the short 18 months since their album Crave hit shelves, brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone have been riding a tidal wave of success some only dream about.
Huge radio hits, including "Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)" and "The Proof Of Your Love," are just the start. Sold-out shows and headlining tours followed closely on the heels of being named one of iTunes Best of 2012.
The duo, who have truly developed a distinct mold with their thought provoking lyrics and dramatically poignant style of music, have been wowing critics and partisans alike, even being given the opportunity to appear on major television programs such as Huckabee and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
While the Australian-born brothers are certainly known for putting their flair of melodic rock and contemporary class to tape, anyone who has ever seen the group live will agree that they put on one of the most unique live experiences any artist—Christian or otherwise—has to offer. With that in mind, it was only a matter of time before the idea went forth to document their stellar performance and display it on a wider platform.
Recorded at The Factory in Franklin, Tenn. on the final night of their Proof Of Your Love Tour, the group's new Hope Is What We Crave: Live CD/DVD release not only highlights a snapshot in for KING & COUNTRY's fast-rising dynasty, but gives new fans the chance to see why this band is being dubbed one of the best new acts in years.
The pair's quirky tune "Fine Fine Life" starts the CD portion with a burst of sophisticated energy, and immediately shows you how quick they are to invite audience participation through some comedic dialogue. Right off the bat, you can hear the upbeat ambiance the packed theater possesses, even through it's located in such an intimate setting.
"Light It Up" displays the Smallbone brothers' powerhouse harmonizing skills, while Joel momentarily interrupts the songs to share the powerful story behind why it was written. With the bombastic drum sounds the band is known for, "Middle Of Your Heart" appears next, and brilliantly mixes it up a bit from the studio version with various audience-driven interludes.
The eerie tune "Missing" gets a makeover as the live counterpart becomes a stripped down acoustic moment. While it doesn't carry quite the same vibe as the haunting original, the repentant lyrics recounting lost love become all the more compelling in this raw setting.
One of the duo's lesser known tunes, "Pushing On A Pulling Door" makes a lovely appearance, and is done so perhaps, that an underrated song finally gets the attention it deserves.
The album wouldn't be complete without the appearance of "Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)," the song that launched the band into stardom, while the most surprising inclusion follows next with the track "Baby Boy," which was originally written as a Christmas song. The band credits its inclusion into their set each night due to their short length of material, and the timeless message the song represents.
The song "Crave," from which the project pulls its title, serves as a honest breath of fresh air as it relates the idea of hope to a person we're desperately aching to be with: "Hope is what we crave and that will never change, so I stand and wait / I need a drop of grace to carry me today, a simple song to say / It's written on our souls, hope's what we crave."
The smash hit and WE LOVE AWARD 2013 Song of the Year "The Proof Of Your Love" closes the album on a theatrically epic note as it combines both the version previously recorded for the album, alongside the radio mix, which includes Joel's spoken word monologue from 1 Corinthians 13. The vibrant ending alone is worth taking the time to give this album a listen.
Alongside the CD, is a DVD of the concert itself, giving this album the perk of a visual aid. Throw in the addition of bonus goodies such as music videos, behind the scenes interviews, and some acoustic performances, the listener has a well put together package worth the small investment.
The Hope Is What We Crave: Live CD/DVD does a great job of summing this pair up, both for those who have and haven't experienced them live. The album has a intriguingly gritty sheen to it, due largely in part to the setting it was recorded in. It does become all too brief at just nine songs, and I feel like a few others on their debut could have made the cut here, nevertheless, it's a splendid portrait of what you're in for during one of their performances.
The fact that for KING & COUNTRY can successfully pull off a live project with only one album under their belt speaks volumes to their creative ability. Their performance is full of powerful moments, met with bursts of heroic production. If ever given the opportunity to see this band live, run, don't walk.
Song To Download:
"The Proof Of Your Love" Live