HOMELESS GOSPEL CHOIR, THE: This Land Is Your Landfill: LP

The Homeless Gospel Choir was a one-man act for years. This album is Derek Zanetti’s first with a full band, and it’s absolutely wonderful. I remember the initial time I saw Zanetti perform. It was at an oddball, now-defunct venue called Games N’ At, located here in Pittsburgh where Zanetti is based. Despite finding his lyrics regarding growing up in a fundamentalist Christian environment impossible to relate to, I listened. I was quickly taken in by his sincerity and politics. Unafraid to tackle deep questions of mental health, his powerful songs resonated with the crowd, with a palpable, transformative, communal radiance taking over the room. That was only the beginning. In the years to follow, Zanetti’s music evolved, with his protest songs continually balancing simplicity with complex introspection. The songs on this record are well-suited for the new full-band approach, yet at their core, simple folk-driven melodies remain. The Homeless Gospel Choir delivers an instant classic with This Land Is Your Landfill. One of the most poignant records to drop during the COVID-19 pandemic; it’s never going to fall into obscurity. –Art Ettinger (A-F)