by Christa A. Banister
Delirious : Kingdom of Comfort
just can't carry on the same way in any sphere of our lives. Everywhere
you go there's a shift happening. People are evaluating what's truly
important in life, and I think our new album reflects that urgency."
For more than a decade now, RIAA Certified Gold-selling band Delirious? has provided the soundtrack for Sunday morning worship services worldwide. Tracks like “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever,” “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?” and “History Maker” have inspired congregations to lift their hands and praise God with abandon.
But when Sunday morning has come and gone, what does it actually mean to be a Christian the rest of the week? What tangible difference are believers making in a hurting, impoverished world? Do our lives actually reflect what we say is important?
These questions, not to mention the band’s first-hand experiences among the poorest of the poor in India, Cambodia, South Africa and beyond, have inspired Delirious? in unimaginable ways. Simply put, it’s been the fuel for their latest album, Kingdom of Comfort, and the driving force behind how they structure their ministry.
“Playing in places like India makes us think about how we distribute our finances and how we’re living our lives,” Smith says. “It’s imperative that we reach out and be a friend to the poor. That’s the only way that God’s light will shine upon us.”
That particularly timely theme of reaching out to those who have no hope is one that’s urgently communicated in the songs of Kingdom of Comfort, the band’s 12th album.
“Seeing children looking for scraps on the rubbish dump they call homes in Cambodia and the education and feeding projects in the slums of Mumbai really had an impact on us,” says lead guitarist Stu G. “It wasn’t possible to simply proceed with business as usual. We had to ask ourselves, ‘What am I building? A kingdom of comfort? Or a kingdom of heaven?’”
The idea behind Kingdom of Comfort came from a sermon from popular Mars Hill pastor/author Rob Bell. “Rob was talking about the contrasts in the lives of David and his son Solomon,” Smith shares. “David built a kingdom of heaven. And Solomon was more concerned about himself. All the decisions he made regarding intermarrying and wealth led to building a kingdom of comfort. Of course, hearing that makes us ask an obvious but important question: ‘Are we focusing on building our lives with eternal things?’”
Like the old saying goes, though, “actions speak louder than words,” so Smith began considering how he, along with the international Christian music community, could truly make a difference in the world together.
After 18 months of prayer, countless business meetings and careful planning, Smith’s dream came true when the first annual Compassionart conference met in Perthshire, Scotland. In what he described as a “I-can’t-stop-pinching-myself moment,” Smith, along with Stu G, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Darlene Zschech, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Israel Houghton and other internationally-respected songwriters teamed up to write songs with 100% of the proceeds from the songs and forthcoming album going to the charities of their choice.
Given everyone’s busy schedules, it would’ve been an impossible feat for many to pull off. But Smith’s passion for helping those in need couldn’t help but resonate with everyone involved.
As anyone who’s listened to a Delirious? album before knows, however, the band had a few new musical tricks up its proverbial sleeve, too. While Smith describes the project as a “step up” from the call-to-action given in 2005’s The Mission Bell thematically, Kingdom of Comfort also marks a new progressive era in the band’s sound. In fact, it’s fair to see that Delirious? has now truly become a guitar band.
Inspired by everyone from Kings of Leon to The Killers to Sigur Ros, tracks like “Give What You Got” and “Eagle Rider” have a decidedly stripped-down, raw sound that meshes well with the album’s insistent message.
With the emphasis on the bread and butter elements of rock ’n’ roll—guitar, bass and drums—rather than incorporating elaborate string arrangements and choirs in the mix, the band was able to translate the frenetic energy of the live concert experience to the studio, giving the album a grittier vibe.
“From a production standpoint, our producer Sam Gibson [Pearl Jam, Crowded House, Hillsongs United, Natalie Imbruglia] kept encouraging us to keep the energy of the live experience rather than overproducing the tracks,” Stu G says. “That deliberate focus made these songs spring to life in an entirely new way.”
While the progression in sound and social justice-minded lyrics are what immediately stand out when listening to Kingdom of Comfort, there’s also plenty of those classic Delirious? moments, replete with soaring choruses that’ll stick in your head for days. Whether it’s the penultimate piano-based track, “All God’s Children” or the gentle strains of “We Give You Praise,” it’s clear that Delirious? remains committed to its worshipful roots. But instead of providing all the answers, the band hopes that listeners will be left with plenty of thought-provoking questions.
“Kingdom of Comfort is a collection of songs inspired by our recent spiritual and physical journeys,” says bassist Jon Thatcher. “Sometimes you get so close to something you can no longer see it for what it is. This record is a journal full of observations, questions and prayers that should leave the listener inspired and inquisitive.”
Christa A. Banister is a full-time freelance writer, specializing in music, movies and book-related reviews and interviews. She's also the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers (NavPress). Based in St. Paul, Minn., where she lives with her hubby Will, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog. For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.