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Song You Need to Know: Ed Barnes, ‘Criticise the Poor’

The long-awaited debut single from the Sydney artist, ‘Criticise the Poor’ sees Ed Barnes taking aim at the Liberal party and the Murdoch press


It’s been a long time coming for Sydney’s Ed Barnes, but after a few years on hold, the forward-thinking artist has unveiled his debut single by way of “Criticise the Poor”.

If Barnes’ name already sounds familiar to you, then there’s a good chance you might have been exposed to his work by way of his impromptu ‘Awning Concerts’ in Sydney’s King Street back in 2020. Inspired by similar events in Europe, Barnes made headlines by way of these gigs which added some much-needed music into the world in the early days of the pandemic.

“My debut single launch tour with Peter Black got cancelled, I had lost my job and I had always dreamed of playing a show from an awning,” he explained. “Lived in a shaggy flat in Newtown, so my friend dropped his PA in front of my house, and we decided to go for it.

“After the first show the number of messages I got, hearing the crowd of people on their balconies singing back the lyrics to ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ made me have to do it again and it became somewhat of a month-long residency.”

Now, the air has cleared somewhat, the world has opened up again, and Barnes is ready to get things back on track, unveiling debut single “Criticise the Poor” this week.

A political, passionate, and powerful performance, “Criticise the Poor” follows in the vein of iconic punk-poets such as Billy Bragg, whilst Barnes’ own homegrown nature evokes musical comparisons to the likes of Paul Kelly.

Set to appear on Barnes’ debut album, Hey, Noel, which is on track to arrive later this year, its lead single takes aim at the Australian Liberal Party and the Murdoch press and their constant goal to turn the working class against each other in pursuit of their own selfish means.

“This song did not necessarily come from a happy place,” Barnes explains. “Like everyone, I had lost my job, my rent shot into arrears, my friends who work in music and sex work were left behind and the best a certain leader could say was ‘It’s a matter for the states’.

“It came from witnessing friends fall into a Sky News rabbit hole, losing their minds to polarising and poisonous three-word headlines by the Murdoch media,” he adds. “With an election soon to be announced, I am hoping this is a song we can all sing together.”

Fittingly, the track also features some work from folk-punk icon (and recent UK chart-topper) Frank Turner, who took on mastering duties for the track.

“It was a blast working on Ed’s new record, it’s fantastic, and this is a standout song,” Turner stated, “Hitting the mark while raising a smile, and catchy as hell to boot.”

While “Criticise the Poor” is set to be officially released on Friday, March 11th, Barnes also has a couple of upcoming launch shows – one acoustic, and one with a full band – planned for next week, with full details available below.

Ed Barnes’ “Criticise the Poor” is officially released on Friday, March 11th.

Ed Barnes’ “Criticise the Poor” Launch Shows

Wednesday, March 16th (Sold Out)
(Acoustic – with Nicole Gandy)
Midnight Special, Sydney, NSW

Saturday, March 19th
(Full Band – with Fox Company and Haters)
Frankie’s Pizza, Sydney, NSW
Free Entry