by Bill Pearis

Kiran Leonard

Manchester, UK singer-songwriter Kiran Leonard has a new EP, titled Abandoning Noble Goals. We've got the premiere of "Working People" from it which is new territory for the prolific musician: political protest. Says Leonard:

i usually avoid writing lyrics related to politics [stick to what you know and all that] but the phrase featured in the title has been intriguing me as of late (i'm not the first person to notice this). both of the uk's main political parties are particularly fond of saying that they represent "working people". on the one hand, they might simply be addressing who they claim to be addressing - individuals in work - but it's also a subtle dismissal of people who don't work because they are unable to. essentially, it's an implicit distancing from people who claim benefits. "look at us, we don't tolerate scroungers", to put it bluntly.

Specifically the song is about David Clapson, a former soldier and diabetic whose unemployment benefits were stopped when he missed a job center appointment and then died from severe lack of insulin, and was found with a stack of resumes near his body. Leonard who has more to say on the subject below, takes the "speak softly" approach, with a delicately picked acoustic guitar figure and subtle piano and accordion, while his voice simmers near the boiling point. Listen below.

Leonard will be playing some UK shows in August and September and those dates are listed, along with the new song and a recent EP stream, below.


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KIRAN LEONARD:
this in a sense can be seen as a political song. i usually avoid writing lyrics related to politics [stick to what you know and all that] but the phrase featured in the title has been intriguing me as of late (i'm not the first person to notice this). both of the uk's main political parties are particularly fond of saying that they represent "working people". on the one hand, they might simply be addressing who they claim to be addressing - individuals in work - but it's also a subtle dismissal of people who don't work because they are unable to. essentially, it's an implicit distancing from people who claim benefits. "look at us, we don't tolerate scroungers", to put it bluntly.

this in a sense can be seen as a political song because the verses of the song concern david clapson. the second anniversary of his death was earlier this month. you might remember the story, it was in the papers a lot a year or so ago - clapson was a diabetic ex-soldier who worked for 28 years of his life before leaving his job to care for his mother, who was suffering from dementia. when she passed away, he began to seek employment again. he passed a computer training course and completed a forklift truck driving course. however, after missing two job centre appointments, he was subjected to a sanction, and his benefits were cut off completely. eventually he ran out of food and his electricity was cut off, which meant that the fridge where he kept his insulin stopped working. when his body was discovered by his sister, he had £3.44 to his name and no food in his house except an out-of-date tin of sardines, six teabags and a can of soup. his stomach was empty and near his body was a recently printed-out giant stack of CVs. i guess the point i'm trying to make is that if the major parties all become parties just for 'working people', then there's not going to be anyone to speak for the people who can't work.

i suppose it is a political song but i wish that it didn't have to be. that simply saying "more should be done to make sure people don't die like this" is seen as taking an ideological stance, rather than a demonstration of basic human compassion, is very depressing to me.

[the final line of the song is taken from a recent open letter by dave anderson to stephen timms (two labour MPs) concerning the division within the party, related to abstention from the new welfare bill . ]

Kiran Leonard live
19 August - The Courtyard, London (solo show)
21 August - Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons
22 August - Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival, Stirling
05 September - End Of The Road Festival, Salisbury

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