Cardboard Box is a raw, honest, and beautifully difficult album to listen to, in which Glenn paints a very real picture of what is going on in the homeless community and in his neighborhood in North Chicago
12 songs / 38 minutes
It has just been a few years since I have started really listening to the blues, specifically the delta and country blues styles. Artists such as Son House, Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, and Rev. Gary Davis have been in regular rotation on my ipod. So when I saw Glenn Kaiser had a new record coming out in what was described as a stripped down delta blues style, my interest was piqued.
To those who don't know who Kaiser is, which if you have trolled around this website enough you probably do, he has been making music for close to 30 years with the influential hard rock/blues Resurrection Band or Rez. Glenn has also released many solo records, which fall into the blues category. Glenn is a founding member of the Jesus People USA (JPUSA) community that is located on the north side in Chicago. One of JPUSA's key ministries is in working with the homeless community by providing food, housing, and other services to over 500 men, women, and children through their Cornerstone Community Outreach ministry, the beneficiary of proceeds from this album.
So enough history already, what about the record? The album was written with those people, who live in Glenn's neighborhood, in mind. The mostly guitar/vocal stories range from hopefulness ("Opportunity Dance") to the despair the many homeless feel while living on the streets, in those cardboard boxes. Yes, the same boxes that we just throw out as trash, one sees as possible shelter. (See the album cover).
One of my favorite tracks is "Opportunity Dance." This incredible song talks about the hope of someone who has been living on the street. That person begins to believe their life has meaning, and because they are feeling cared for, there is hope and reasons to keep living.
"The sun streams in, Touchin' my bed, It's a brand new day,
Opportunity came, So I took the chance, To walk a different way.
Food on my plate, Pillow on my bed, Learnin' new things,
Maybe love is real, Maybe I can feel, The brush of angels wings"
The one thing I appreciated most about the album was that the lyrical content wasn't heavy handed and overly political, but an honest portrayal of the struggle that many of the homeless feel every day as they try to just survive. Cardboard Box is a raw, honest, and beautifully difficult album to listen to, in which Glenn paints a very real picture of what is going on in the homeless community and in his neighborhood in North Chicago and the hope that can exist.