ALLISON RUSSELL – ” Outside Child “

Posted: December 2, 2021 in MUSIC
Allison Russell, Outside Child

Montreal born Scottish Grenadian Canadian, Allison Russell, is a mother, a musician, a poet, a writer – a mixed-heritage, queer, black woman. Her winding musical path – from her first work in Canadian roots band, Po’ Girl, to Birds of Chicago, her band with her partner JT Nero to her recent collaborations like Our Native Daughters (Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, and Amythyst Kiah). 

Outside Child, says Russell “is about resilience, survival, transcendence, the redemptive power of art, community, connection, and chosen family.” Singing about this on “Nightflyer,” Russell ponders the healing power of motherhood, using the track’s wide-open expanse to convey the strength she didn’t know she had. Here, the line “I am the mother of the evening star / I am the love that conquers all” is “the most defiantly triumphant, hopeful line I’ve ever written…that’s about the birth of my daughter and how that transformed me.” Though they had a fraught relationship, Russell remembers how she’d crawl underneath the piano and listen to her own mother play. “I would hum along with her,” Russell recalls. “She said I was humming before I could talk. I was able to feel some kind of comfort or love or connection in a way that she couldn’t verbally or physically express – but I could feel in her music that there was love in her.”

There are many ways to tell a story: Words are only one. Allison Russell, long a light of the Americana scene, recovers her own saga of abuse, escape and recovery in a song cycle as enriched by its multifaceted musical vocabulary as by her poetic lyrics. “Oh my Montreal, can I dream of you tonight,” she begins in her radiant alto, slipping a French verse into a chanson that begins “Outside Child’s” journey from childhood sexual abuse to a fugitive adolescence to healing in the arms of chosen family and rock and roll. Recorded in community with her Nashville people, including her partner JT Nero, Yola, Erin Rae and the McCrary Sisters, these songs touch down in country, gospel, blues, folk, Caribbean diasporic rhythms and troubadour balladry as she unfolds her story like the squares of a quilt threaded with her tears and her blood. The album ends with another wanderer’s chanson, transformed through Russell’s narrative into the kind of anthem sung around a fire in a city alley: “Where in the world are the joyful motherf******? Show ’em what you got in your heart.

Released May 21st, 2021

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