Release Date: January 8th 2012
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
Capital Kings- Capital Kings (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
Already gaining a fanbase and a reputation as one of Christian music’s freshest remixers, as they have already worked with Britt Nicole, Mandisa, Group 1 Crew, and TobyMac with their renditions in 2012; duo Capital Kings is releasing their debut album this year through Gotee Records. Initially not going to review this album, I am glad to be proven wrong, as Cole Walowac (who raps) and Jon White (who sings) have shown that the impact of the music isn’t restricted by genre. To me, I am more partial to CCM and pop, yet the electronic experimental group, who was discovered by TobyMac, and infuses musical elements from many artists, as they remind me of Owl City and David Crowder*Band at times; have won me over with their 10 song 35 minute different kind of album. Stretching the boundaries of what is ‘normal’ in the Christian music scene, this is what I think a debut album should sound like- staying true to your sound yet taking risks as well. One thing I can say for sure after listening to Jon and Cole rap and sing with guest vocals Britt Nicole, Royal Tailor, Family Force 5 and TobyMac; these guys will be in the spotlight for many more years to come!
Out of the 10 tracks, 4 are with guest vocalists. “We Belong As One”, “Living For The Other Side”, “Born To Love” and “The Paradigm” include TobyMac, Tauren Wells Of Royal Tailor, Britt Nicole, and Soul Glow Activatur of Family Force 5 respectively. Sometimes guest vocalists hamper songs, or they totally overshadow the artist on the album cover. But with Capital Kings, these 4 songs have heart, and in no way are the four aforementioned guests trying to steal the limelight- in fact, I think Cole, Jon and the guests do a great job at blending their voices together to make great music. “We Belong As One” is a dance anthem, proclaiming that as Christians, we all belong together as we all recognise Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Sporting smooth and captivating lyrical content and explosive musical elements inclusive of electronic experimental components; TobyMac’s inclusion in the bridge gives the track a layered depth, and sets a bar for the rest of the album to surpass. “Living For The Other Side” is danceable and funky as well, and Tauren’s voice as Royal Tailor is added to the mix, is so sublime. One of my favourite tracks that is perfect for disco and partying, lyrically Jon and Cole speak about living for Jesus, and keeping our eyes fixed on the eternal prize of heaven, rather than just living in the moment. Our lives are so unique, as God fashioned each one individually, so we can live with one eye on the future, knowing that He has it all in His hands. The album closer “The Paradigm” features Family Force 5, and though not my favourite, as the song musically seems a bit too diverse, with many instruments included and encompassed; lyrically and conceptually I have to give full marks in that department, as the song talks about making a stand for what we believe in and not just accepting everything that comes our way. Encouraging us to stand up and out from the crowd, what a great way for Capital Kings to finish a compelling debut album!
But my favourite song with a guest vocalist on Capital Kings’ debut is with Britt Nicole, re-releasing her album Gold to mainstream markets early in 2013, who is present on “Born To Love”. The subject matter focuses on the frailty of life and the brokenness of humanity. However as the inspiring dance anthem continues, we are given a heart-warming picture, that this world can be changed through the love we have in Jesus Christ and the good news that Christ died so that we could live. We were all born to spread God’s love, and this track is a reminder that we must take up the challenge and show love to everyone. One of the most lyrically sound songs on the album, this is one of my favourites, not only because Britt is one of my favourite female vocalists, but because the song is a bit different musically and more out there lyrically, and that excites me!
The rest of the 6 songs are just as good as the ones with guest vocals. The two lead singles “You’ll Never Be Alone” and “I Feel So Alive” are great musically and lyrically, and highlight down-to-earth and motivational messages that even a listener in mainstream radio can appreciate and understand. Though there are no pure ballads in the 10 track rap lovers piece of heaven; “You’ll Never Be Alone” is the closest ‘slow song’, as the lyrics are more pronounced than the music this time. At first thinking that Adam Young of Owl City was singing, this encouraging pop track that could be home on any mainstream radio station, and gives us reason to trust God, as Jon belts out the lyrics from God’s perspective, and gives me all the more reason to praise Him: “…I’m the streetlights that guide you home, I’ll be the GPS when you’ve lost your phone, I’ll be the song that’s rockin’ in your headphones, I’ll show you the signs to let you know you’ll never be alone…”. “I Feel So Alive”, on the other hand, speaks about the life we have in Christ, and that with Jesus, we can truly live life to the fullest for the purposes He has for us. Yet another mosh pit classic (could we expect anything less from this duo in which dance music is the niche market?), the lyrics of ‘…I’m breaking through the hate to a brand new day, cause my heart has been revived…’, one again highlights how Jesus Christ can change and mould a heart from hate to love. What a great song to contemplate over.
The album opener “All The Way” packs a punch, reminding me of Group 1 Crew musically; and speaks about shining for Jesus and standing up no matter if we are ridiculed. Even though this concept is littered all throughout the album; it’s a concept I never get tired of hearing- as Christians we should go all out and tell the world what we believe in, and Cole and Jon have brilliantly crafted a track that shows this in “All The Way” which opens proceedings. “Ready For Home” is another pop tune that speaks about commitment, and devoting our lives fully to Christ. Musically, this is cut from the same stuff that borne out “You’ll Never Be Alone”, and lyrically it is similar to. In the verses Jon and Cole describe their lives as opposite to what Jesus wants, yet in the chorus, there is a change of tone as it’s at that point that we know that everything in our lives can have a good thing come out of them, as God is working in us always. So we shouldn’t really run away from God, thinking we can do it all on our own- the song is the perfect representation of the Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15: 11-32). When we are ready for Home and our longing to be with our Creator and away from the chaos this world intensifies; God will take us back, no question. Hands down, one of the best songs on Capital Kings’ debut, and should be a single in the future!
“Be There” is another upbeat track with dubstep, and gives us a gentle reminder and encouragement that Jesus will be there in our troubles and the storm, and ‘…it’s love that finds a way…when the lights go down…what you’re on the run…when you’re hanging on I’m gonna be there…’. He always keeps his promises and this track seems to be an answer to a prayer and a very comforting answer as well. The question to the answer that is sung called “Be There” could might as well be “Tell Me”. This worshipful and vulnerable ballad brings the tempo down a notch, and features keys and synth as the forefront rather than electronics. In this song, Cole and Jon sing beautifully in harmony, and express prayerfully, honestly, and emotionally to God, their fears and thoughts, and ask God to tell them and give them a sign that everything is going to be alright. The most exposed and open track on the album; this shows that Capital Kings can be fun and quirky, but also serious and heartfelt, and that’s what I love about this new album! For me, this is a no brainer for the Dove Awards in 2014 (I know, it’s early, but, hey I reckon they are this year’s for KING & COUNTRY!)
Though I wasn’t a fan of electronic music, Capital Kings have changed my mind a little bit. Their self titled debut on Gotee Records is near flawless for a first album; and no doubt they will have avid fans and their music will change many lives. Expect to see many more electro/pop/r&b/rap/hip-hop album in the future. Capital Kings need to be commended for a creative release- I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled for their sophomore effort. Well done guys, you deserve all the accolades thrown your way!
- All the Way
- We Belong As One (feat. tobyMac)
- You’ll Never Be Alone
- Living for the Other Side (feat. Royal Tailor)
- I Feel So Alive
- Ready for Home
- Born To Love (feat. Britt Nicole)
- Be There
- Tell Me
- The Paradigm (feat. Soul Glow Activatur of Family Force 5)