Release Date: October 16th 2012
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
Stellar Kart- Acoustic (Website)
Stellar Kart has been one of my favourite bands of late, and ever since I heard “Me and Jesus” five years ago on the radio, the Phoenix Arizona pop/punk band has never ceased to amaze me with their ingenious musical craft and honest lyrics about Jesus and about life. I also have loved their creative music videos, namely “Innocent”, “Activate”, “Student Driver”, and “Me and Jesus”, as Adam Agee and the guys have matured throughout the years, and progressed to a more pop and worship sound. Since 2009 though, after the release of the worship focused Everything Is Different Now in November, with covers from Audio Adrenaline, Fee, and Matt Redman; the band has taken longer than expected to release a follow up album. Due to many reasons such as long time band members leaving as they felt God calling them somewhere else, as well as a parting from the label (Fair Trade Services); it seems like the new Stellar Kart is ready to dish out some new studio tunes, with a new album slated for early 2013. Til then, however, we are left with an acoustic EP of 8 songs, with 2 of them new, as these alternative and unique arrangements breathe new life into these already awesome tracks, and I eagerly anticipate the direction Adam, Nick Baunhardt, and Jeremi Hough go into musically and lyrically.
Though the whole album is Adam passionately singing, as well as Nick strumming the acoustic guitar, this simple approach is effective, as the lyrics of each of the tracks are brought out and highlighted more. “Me and Jesus”, the hit song from 2006, is now a stripped back slower melody that shows Adam crying out in desperation to someone in need, saying that they can find solace and peace in Jesus, and that ‘…someone love you, even if you don’t think so, you got me and Jesus, by your side, through the fight, you will never be alone…’. Though the message has stayed the same from the original rendition; this ‘new’ version is just as powerful and poignant as I am moved and inspired by Adam’s enthusiastic vocals and the eternal truths of friendship and trust in the promised that God will never leave us. The upbeat “Shine Like The Stars” is another highlight, as this is the ‘heaviest’ song on the album, with passionate strumming, and plucking, by Nick and Adam a pleasure to listen to. Lyrically, this is the band at is best, and it is only in the acoustic light that I have come to appreciate the lyrics and listen closer. About how we must shine for Jesus and know what we believe, otherwise our world values and beliefs will be shaped by those around us, and may be easily moulded into something God doesn’t want us to be; this confronting song is great in its acoustic nature, and is a call for us to action to not let the status quo be, but be active and change the world by imprinting our legacy on it and make a difference. “Wishes And Dreams” is sung from God’s perspective about how He sees our whole life looking in from a birds’ eye view, and all of our wishes and dreams that never came to fruition because of one reason or another. But God is singing down to us, and letting us know that if we trust Him fully with our lives, ‘…Me and you together forever, we could be, someday you will find Me in all your wishes and dreams…’, we will be satisfied as God will show us his bigger plan, and let us know that we are not alone. Such a comforting track, there’s something just magical with just a guitar and spontaneous praising to God, with is what Adam does in the bridge, and with such ease and brilliance!
“Something Holy” is another favourite song of mine, and with such a similarity to the 2010 version that was so popular, Adam, Nick and Jeremi explore the fact that we all are meant to be extraordinary, and that inside humans are inherently broken without the love of Christ, and that ‘…this world never was enough, we’re made for a deeper love, there’s a hole in all of us, it’s part of our design, we were born to be, a part of something holy…’. God will fill the hole that needs filling, and because of the sacrifice on the cross, we can truly live in freedom and purpose. Musically, not a lot has changed from the 2010 version, as this true-to-the original song has my head moving and my feet tapping together! The last two songs from previous albums are “Letters” (from Expect The Impossible) and “Finish Last” (from All Gas, No Brake). “Letters” seems to be ambiguous as we are not sure if Adam is singing to God or to a friend or loved one; and this double meaning is a good thing, as even non-Christians can wonder about the lyrical content. In my opinion, this emotional song is about us longing to be with Jesus is heaven, and being on Earth at the moment, and reading his ‘letters’, which is the Bible, and the time when ‘…someday soon we’ll be together, and a moment lasts forever, and our love shines brighter than the stars…’ is when we are in heaven with Jesus at the end of our life. Well done Adam and co. for this uplifting and comforting song! “Finish Last” is about being last in this life to be first in the eternal kingdom of Jesus. When we put others first, and when we ‘…finish last, last in the world’s eyes, no matter what I do, I will be first in Your eyes…’; in this upside down world that Jesus introduced people to in Matthew 20:1-16, we are met with a concept that we are different from the world, and as most of our values are different, so must we act and behave. We are all outcasts, but that’s ok, because Jesus is looking at each oen of us and saying ‘well done’, and smiling, when we stand up for Him and our beliefs. Well done Stellar Kart for creating fresh and invigorating versions of your songs!
The last two songs are brand new! “Ones and Zeros”, one of my favourite tracks on this intimate album, speaks about the frailties of life, and the beautiful people that God has made us, with such complexity. Ones and zeros are part of binary code in computers, and from the outset, may not seem very intelligent, but together with many more ones and zeros, a computer is formed. In the same way, every part of humanity is important, and this song speaks about how we may see ourselves as vulnerable, weak, and not needed in this world, but God loves and treasures everyone. Drawing themes from 1 Corinthians 12: 12-31; that every part of the body of Christ has a gift that is needed, we are reminded that God views us as ‘…the future heroes, a colourful symphony…’, and that no matter of our own view on our abilities and talents, God will never give up on us, and will always tell us that we are important, unique, and necessary in this life. “Criminals and Kings”, the album closer, speaks the dichotomy that we all find ourselves in, that we are kings and queens of the Lord Most High, and we’ve been bought with the price of Jesus dying on the cross and we should feel like royalty (cause it’s true!), however sometimes we live like we are criminals, because as humans on this earth, we tend to act out and do stupid things as long as the devil and sin are around. So living in that tension and knowing in our hearts that we can live a godly life, but sometimes we don’t, is tough, and this in-your-face track reminds me of what Paul writes in Romans 7: 15-24, that sometimes temptation isn’t overcome as we would like, and that is where God’s grace comes in, ever so undeserving. With such vibrancy and a unbridled fervour, Stellar Kart have created a gem of an album, and only have me more eager for their upcoming studio release!
I thought these guys would stay dormant all year, but this taster of things to come is a welcome EP. With a sound similar to Hawk Nelson, Sanctus Real, and Relient K; Adam, Jeremi and Nick are sure to create and craft a worthwhile album in 2013, and this unique take on some of their classics and radio singles is sure to create buzz from critics and listeners alike. Well done Stellar Kart, this mini-album is terrific, and almost flawless! I’ll definitely be buying your 2013 album, for sure!
- Ones and Zeros
- Me and Jesus
- Shine Like The Stars
- Something Holy
- Finish Last
- Wishes And Dreams
- Criminals And Kings