Poor Man – Louise Distras

The second fantastic release to cross my path live in real-time in 2019 (*WINK*) is from The New Hope for Indie Punk. Louise is a woman who understands to be truly alternative is to take up a position in opposition to the status quo (again not the band, they’ve suffered enough) and to object. The press talks a lot about Louise being a new voice. A new voice of revolutionary objection. A new voice of punk, of protest, of the street.

Her last album was called Dreams From The Factory Floor. And that seemed gritty and real and edgy to the music press. When did it become an exception that rock music was made by working class kids sharing the world view of those earning the minimum wage but living in rage? At what point did we all embrace the Brit School trained, BBC approved, polished with no sharp edges version of rock and roll in favour of the realness of people like Louise Distras?

Just like the Pete Seegers, Roger Daltreys and Billy Braggs who went before her, this fresh voice of the people who feel marginalised is singing about our here and our now and she’s calling for unity in her community to drive change from the inside out and from the bottom to the top. The new EP is called Street Revolution and it’s title track is a clarion call of epic (almost Bon Jovi Stadium Epic) proportions. Street Revolution is the first of four songs that cleverly get straight to the beating heart of our matters and work their way out to the little hairs on your arms.

I’m including Street Revolution’s opening number below for comparison purposes but I really wanted to talk about Poor Man here today. Track three on the EP, it nestles between the other tracks New World In Our Heart and Solidarity. For me it is the center piece on the release.

As I’ve alluded up top, Louise is fresh, she’s new and she’s signing about the current austerity riddled, heavily taxed, stabby, disenchanted, very Brexity and a little bit knackered Britain that she’s come of age in. She’s a young woman with a guitar and a scorching scream and she’s making a noise the likes of which hasn’t been heard so loud and clear in many a year. I suspect she’s also a scholar of Rock And Roll Archeology.

See you might recognise the chorus of Poor Man. You might recognise it from being a fan of Bruce Springsteen, or you might know it from your Dad’s (or your own) Ry Cooder albums. Maybe you’ve heard UB40 do it or maybe Pete Seeger? Maybe you really know your Rock and Roll Homework inside out and you’re aware this was originally a protest song from the great depression. First recorded by Blind Alfred Reed in 1929. It’s 90 fucking years old (here come the ‘and yets’)

OK pretty much everyone who has taken a swing at it in those intervening years has added a lyric, taken a liberty, tweaked a bar, rearranged something. It’s community property this chorus and it’s anyone’s and everyone’s to use as they need or as they see fit.

Lousie isn’t crowbarring (oop, yesterdays track reference, keep up!) in lyrics about iPhones or Love Island to update this. She’s leaving the gold digging preachers and the ‘strange fruit swinging in the southern breeze‘ in. And yet, I’ll be a monkeys uncle if this doesn’t sound entirely relevant to the issues were facing down in this infant year of our lives.

She’s not afraid to borrow a chorus from the common lexicon to get a room of strangers singing along. Track Four, Solidarity on the EP swings by Bob Marley’s Redemption Song to borrow a lyric or two. It’s a powerful and humble thing for an artist to do. It lets new members sign up to the song they’re hearing real-time.

Four tracks, many topics, one message. This needs sorting out and we need to work together to do it. Sing along. Turns out you know the words already.

As is customary with the unsigned, indie end of the deal. Website Linky and news that she’s on tour (this very week boys and girls) abound.


5 thoughts on “Poor Man – Louise Distras

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