al stewart

Give US Your Poor

beach full of shells
Various Artists
Give US Your Poor


“This compilation that spans genres and generations shines its spotlight on homelessness, showing that the problem remains as pervasive as ever . . . With the essays and extensive annotation accompanying these recordings, almost all of them previously unreleased, no one who encounters this package is likely to remain unmoved.
– Don McLeese, Editorial Review


Give US Your Poor is a benefit record that doesn’t duck from its subject for commercial considerations, which is to say that – the excellent contributions of Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, and Bonnie Raitt aside – you’re not going to get through the album without contemplating what's it’s like to be homeless. But a downer this CD is not: from Springsteen’s juiced-up version of the classic ‘Hobo’s Lullaby’ with Pete Seeger to Madeleine Peyroux's pretty ‘I Think It’s Going to Rain Today’ to Dan Zanes and Kyla Middleton’s rootsy picker-upper ‘Boll Weevil,’ the music shoves away preachiness and solemnity in favor of hope. It’s there in Danny Glover's affecting spoken word ‘My Name Is Not ‘Those People’’ and also Sweet Honey in the Rock’s grounded a cappella ‘Stranger Blues,’ but where it really reaches its target is on the opening sequence. ‘Land of 10,000 Homeless – Minnesota’ is a brief audio documentary set to music; here you meet people living the life, and here you hear their sagas. Self-pity never plays a part; only simple humanity, taken to the streets and scrubbed to its core elements, shines through.”
– Tammy La Gorce, All Music Guide

“Featuring musicians of many stripes . . . the nineteen-song set feels as seamless as the chapters in a novel. . . . Not surprisingly, themes of strife and poverty abound, but what’s most striking about these songs is the absence of pathos and the prevailing sense of hope. . . . As with the songs themselves, the liner notes attest to the resilience of the human spirit, even while laying bare statistics that should shame a country so rich. With beauty, dignity and grace, Give US Your Poor draws attention toward places where the inclination is too often to turn away.”
– Russell Hall, No Depression, Nov/Dec 2007

“The centerpiece is the pairing of Bruce Springsteen and Woody Guthrie for Wood Guthrie favourite ‘Hobo’s Lullaby.’ Moving and quietly inflamed, it epitomizes this strong humane compilation”
– Rob Hughes, Uncut, January 2008

“The CD gives voice to ordinary people by letting them help write and sing their own songs. Furthermore, when many of the musicians — like Jewel, Sam McClain and Willie Robinson — sing about being homeless and poor they also do so with firsthand knowledge of the issue. The result is a stunning collection of tunes and spoken word offerings that draws yet more attention to an important and growing social problem. One can only hope that more than just people’s ears are engaged.
– Bruce Pollock, FFWD, Calgary, Canada

“The solution to the most intractable problems of poverty begins with the poor taking control of their own situation. Here’s a step in the right direction. Although the billing goes to stars – Natalie Merchant (the beautiful ‘There Is No Good Reason’), Bruce Springsteen with Pete Seeger, Bonnie Raitt, Bon Jovi, Buffalo Tom and readings by Danny Glover and Tim Robbins – many of the musicians here are or have been homeless. Glover’s ‘My Name Is Not ‘Those People’’ is particularly chilling in a climate frozen into an ugly posture by the likes of Imus’s return and the degrading Presidential election ‘debates.’”
– Dave Marsh, Rock & Rap Confidential, December 2007


“There’s a fine, dignified Springsteen/Seeger rendition of ‘Hobo’s Lullaby,” for instance, and a chillingly percipient rendition of Leadbelly's ‘Boll Weevil’ from 11-year-old Kyla Middleton with minimal rustic accompaniment by Dan Zanes. And the CD’s various other collaborations between established artists and homeless musicians are shot through with an immediacy that can be most powerful: Keb’ Mo’s ‘Baby Don't Let Me Go Homeless’ and Natalie Merchant’s ‘There Is No Good Reason’ especially so in this regard, where the soulful musical settings work with and for the sentiment . . . There's also a sparky, rollicking take on the Rufus Thomas classic ‘Walkin’ The Dog’ by Bonnie Raitt with octogenarian Boston blues legend Weepin' Willie Robinson, while I also really liked Madeleine Peyroux’s deliciously well-considered take on Randy Newman’s ‘I Think It's Going To Rain Today.’ Del Goldfarb, heard with John Sebastian in tow on his own composition ‘Portable Man,’ is pretty persuasive, as in its own way is the cut by 90s indie-rockers Buffalo Tom, while the contributions by Sweet Honey In The Rock and singer-songwriters Michelle Shocked and Sonya Kitchell are suitably thoughtful and certainly worth keeping in the collection. The fine Mark Erelli track ‘Here And Now’ (taken from his latest CD Hope And Other Casualties) should serve to bring his writing to a wider public. . . . you can’t argue with the integrity and commitment of the whole enterprise, or the astounding achievement it represents in getting it all together, while its uniformly excellent recording quality is never a matter for debate.”
– David Kidman, NetRhythms

“The Give US Your Poor project works on every intended level, both as a way of bringing the issue of homelessness to the public’s attention through an accessible medium, and also as a valid musical endeavor. . . . An extremely well put together record.”
– Brett Callwood, Acoustic, UK