For King & Country, the two-time Grammy award-winning duo, dropped their third album, Burn the Ships, in 2018. The album is seeing a resurgence in sales since COVID, an unsurprising turn given its messages of hope.
Brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, who write and perform all of the tracks, instill each song with a contemporary pop, Jonas Brothers feel. Their lyrics are based on real-life events that seem hopeless and tragic at the onset, but are transformed to feel-good, uplifting stories. Tragedies turn into miracles through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, all set to addictive music.
Listening to the album now, you can’t help but wonder if the brothers anticipated the state of our world just two years later and provided prophetic words to get through these troubled times. The title track refers to a 1500s Spanish explorer who landed his boat on enemy shores completely unaware of what lay before him. He commanded his troops to “burn the ships” so there would be no way to retreat. The overriding theme of “onward and upward” encourages us to look forward, not behind, to forge ahead even in the face of uncertainty.
It is one of several tracks that echo the message that crippling fear can keep us from being all we can be. Perhaps the themes are timeless because the songwriters draw from their own personal lives to create art that is heartfelt and moving. “I Need You More,” was written after Luke’s infant son Leo stopped breathing in his crib one night. Leo’s mom, Courtney, discovered the baby just in time and performed CPR, saving his life. The song reflects the need for God during times when all seems lost and the belief that God can and does perform miracles.
“Joy,” has a fun, dance-music vibe and a chorus that jumps out of the song and brings you to your feet. Interestingly, the lyrics arose from Luke’s time on social media, where he quickly tired of the superficial and false nature of what is presented. The song is a call-out for true joy, which has nothing to do with Facebook or Instagram, but instead with slowing down and appreciating what’s important.
Another hit from the album, “Fight on fighter,” shares words fitting to our current circumstances:
I was there on the day that you were changed
You were scared and prepared for the heartbreak
Everything you knew faded out of view
Stole a piece of you
While we can all relate to these feelings and have been there many times ourselves, especially in recent months, the song breaks into a motivational crescendo that reminds us that, with God, we are stronger than any force. We WILL get through whatever life throws our way, as long as we wear the armor of God.
Burn the Ships is a musical version of all the memes and posts that have appeared since COVID changed our lives. It’s a reminder of where our focus needs to be: on family, faith, and love. But it is so much more entertaining than scrolling through social media looking for the perfect quote to encapsulate this time. It reminds us that God is in control. Instead of longing for the way things used to be, it’s time to look forward to a better future with God as our center.