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JFH Music Review

Kevin Max, Broken Temples

Kevin Max
Broken Temples

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Pop / Pop Rock
Album length: 10 tracks: 37 minutes, 51 seconds
Street Date: March 10, 2015


Kevin Max Smith (aka Kevin Max; aka K-Max) has always been sort of an enigma. Just when you think you have him figured out, he does something else. Kevin went from the powerful vocals behind dc Talk to a successful solo career. Shoot, he's even done a couple of movies; the biggest being his starring role in 2008's The Imposter. From there, Kevin did the unimaginable... He became the second member of dc Talk to join a CCM powerhouse band from the 90's. K-Max in Audio Adrenaline was a pretty wild idea, but it worked. Obviously, he has a different vocal style than founder, and original singer, Mark Stuart, but Kevin helped to bring a band to life that had been dormant for some time -- they hadn't released a studio album in 7 years. Although Audio A with K-Max was a hit, it was also short-lived at only 2 years. Upon announcing his departure from the AA camp, Kevin gave the word about his upcoming album Broken Temples and the lead single "Infinite." After months of waiting, Broken Temples is finally here.

Kevin promised JFH readers that "Infinite" was "not like the sum of its parts." He was correct in that statement. "Good Kings Highway" starts the album off rather impressively. The song is an alternative/pop/rock anthem that is a fun listen and will undoubtedly cause some fist pumping at live shows. While "Infinite" was an impressive first look, "Good Kings Highway" rivals it. Some may fault it as slightly generic, but the infectious nature is hard to deny. "Light Me Up" follows and seems to be written as a radio hit; it's one of the least impressive numbers. "Just As I Am" brings in the first hint of the electronica Kevin promised last year. "Clear" follows suit, but has a much more 80's feel. "When We Were Young" has the sound of a song written by the Smallbone brothers and would fit perfectly on a for King & Country album. The U2-esque verse opens into a big chorus that begs one to sing along. More electronica ensues with "That Was Then and This is Now" and "White Horse" turns out to be another of the album's best as Kevin sings about the prophecy of Christ returning while riding on a white horse. Next up are two Derek Webb remixes of earlier songs. While they have different titles, "Another Big Mistake" and "Going Clear" are remixes of "Just As I Am" and "Clear," respectively. "Another Big Mistake" doesn't add much to the original, but the work done on "Going Clear" is definitely of note. The electronic music, coupled with the keyboard and effects, give the song a feel of a classic sci-fi film -- especially the super haunting organ sounds in the second verse. It's definitely a cool track and is now one of this reviewer's personal favorite Kevin Max ventures. The album closes out with the lead single, "Infinite," featuring Rachael Lampa. As promised by Kevin, the song is nothing like the rest of the album, but it's pretty fantastic nonetheless. I'm on board for a full album of K-Max songs in this style.

In all honesty, my first couple of listens through Broken Temples only brought disappointment. After really delving in and listening in-depth, what was initially heard as generic radio songs began to show their layers. This may not be Kevin's best work to date, but the man is far from generic. The biggest complaint on the record is that is technically only 8 songs. Changing titles and sounds for the remixes doesn't push it to a full ten-song record... The album could have benefited greatly from adding two additional songs and making the remixes available as bonus tracks or through an extended/deluxe version (But 2 new songs will be added later on for a digital Deluxe Edition). While seeing Kevin Max exit Audio Adrenaline so soon was sad, Broken Temples has shown that he isn't done. You can't go wrong in adding this record to your collection, but, if you're not impressed at first, give it a couple more spins. You should definitely find some enjoyment in this one.

- Review date: 2/22/15, written by Michael Weaver of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

In the words of Peter Furler, music is "like painting a painting - if you kept painting paintings the same way, the first one would lose its luster." It's the best description of Kevin Max's track record, as well, as he's always taken a different direction with every musical project he's pursued, both solo and as a band member. And right after his short stint fronting Audio Adrenaline comes Broken Temples, Max's first solo album in almost five years and perhaps the veteran's most earnest project yet. At first, the slick pop vibe of Broken Temples feels like a continuation of where Audio A's Kings & Queens left off, but with more time and exposure, it feels more like a product of Max's own doing. The vocals are on point as usual, but every song's creative direction feels more purposeful and direct, while also converging effectively for a polished album statement. The opener "Good Kings Highway" is reminiscent of U2's famous "Where the Streets Have No Name," and "Light Me Up" is the most radio-friendly of the album (perhaps to a slight fault), and that's just the start. Other highlights include the infectious bass-led "Clear," the epic nature of "White Horse," and the show-stopping finale "Infinite" (complete with a brief but impactful appearance by Rachael Lampa). Right before "Infinite" come two remixes of previous songs on the album, courtesy of Derek Webb; while they are quality cuts, they end up disrupting the album's flow overall and should have been allocated to the album's "bonus material" in the deluxe edition. Still, an album like Broken Temples only adds to the vast landscape of Kevin Max's discography, and though not as quirky as Cotes D'Amour, it's also in many ways the album that Kings & Queens should have been. Listeners are truly fortunate that powerhouse songwriters like Kevin Max are still creating quality music, and his latest effort will most assuredly be one of the finest achievements of CCM this year. - Review date: 3/8/15, Roger Gelwicks



JFH Staff's Additional 2 Cents

Kevin Max has as distinctive a voice and persona as your likely to find in Christian music, and Broken Temples has the unique quality of sounding both unique and familiar at the same time. "Good Kings Highway" is a great opener that soars along on a recognizable, driving beat, but is served well by Max's soulful voice and clever wordplay (with a subtle lyrical nod to U2). "Light Me Up" is a great melodic song of thankfulness that references the album's title ("inside every broken temple is a space for you to fill.") "Just As I Am" and "Clear" are funky songs with great bass riffs that have a retro 80's dance vibe and glide along on a bed of synths and beats. It's unfortunate that both songs get the remix treatment later on, as neither remix adds anything to the songs. "Infinite," a snazzy marching band of a song, is the standout track here, and the one that would sound great on the radio on a sunny day. Max glides around from style to style on Broken Temples ("That Was Then and This Is Now" is a spot-on Killers imitation), but handles each outing with aplomb. It's unfortunate and head-scratchingly odd though that the album is only eight original tracks long, with the two re-mixes oddly sequenced in the track running order. With just a few more songs, Max would have had a truly outstanding album. - 3/8/15, Alex Caldwell of

After a short-yet-successful stint as the frontman of Audio Adrenaline, Kevin Max is back with another solo album, Broken Temples. The 10-track album carries a retro vibe with several of the song exhibiting 80's and 90's musical elements, somewhat akin to OneRepublic. Although the album is well-produced, it is decidedly not Max's best work. Many of the songs are astonishingly mediocre and fail to stand out at all. The lyrics, while more devout than in the past, don't fare much better. Nothing is poorly done or of bad quality, but there's not a whole lot in play to distinguish Broken Temples. There are a few redeeming tracks, though, including "When We Were Young," "White Horse," and the gospel-style hymn "Infinite." If nothing else, check out these three pieces for starters. - 3/8/15, David Craft of


. Record Label: None
. Album length: 10 tracks: 37 minutes, 51 seconds
. Street Date: March 10, 2015
. Buy It: iTunes

  1. Good Kings Highway (4:15)
  2. Light Me Up (4:08)
  3. Just As I Am (3:32)
  4. Clear (3:20)
  5. When We Were Young (3:10)
  6. That Was Then and This Is Now (3:58)
  7. White Horse (4:02)
  8. Another Big Mistake (Derek Webb Remix) (3:42)
  9. Going Clear (Derek Webb Remix) (3:19)
  10. Infinite (4:25)

    Digital Deluxe Bonus Tracks:
  11. Freak Flag (3:30)
  12. Lay Down Your Weapons My Friend (3:05)
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