Drawn from performances presented at two series of concerts in 1999 and 2000, this collection has both a serious purpose - raising awareness of an important problem and raising money to do something about it - and a lot of musical merit, as long as you're not repelled by simply presented songs about deeper things than what you're likely to hear on country radio these days.
A list of the artists involved is enough to make the point: Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Guy Clark with Verlon Thompson, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bruce Cockburn, Nanci Griffith, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Patty Griffin, Kris Kristofferson, Terry Allen and Steve Earle. These aren't lightweights, and though they're mostly singer/songwriters, the phrase as it's usually construed simply doesn't do them justice. There are some "hits" here, like Griffith's "It's A Hard Life," but the essence of this disc is to be found in the straightforward and heartfelt performances, often accompanied by a few well-chosen words from the singers.
It's sometimes fashionable to sneer at socially-engaged artists, and sometimes that's justified, but in this case, there's nothing but good intentions, a good message most importantly, some good, good music.