A child of abuse at the hands of her stepfather, Allison Russell used that young trauma to fuel her art, winding her way through The Birds Of Chicago and Our Native Daughters to her solo debut Outside Child, a stunning work that traces her life – one she says was saved by Rock & Roll – through all of her travails to find her a talented and confident woman ready to take on the world on her own terms. Russell does this while displaying the diversity of her voice, which can float ethereally through the air (“Montreal” – an ode to her home town), be powerful and direct (“Poison Arrow,” a song about her relationship with the same city), or rise to a restrained howl (“All Of The Women,” written about a drug-addicted sex-trade worker Russell befriended when she was a mental health care worker in Vancouver), deftly serving the emotions of each song.
Recorded in Nashville with Dan Knobler (Lake Street Dive, Rodney Crowell, Judy Collins) behind the console, Outside Child features sparse arrangements that swirl through the brain, entrancing the listener and creating almost visual settings for each part of Russell’s life tale. Lyrically, she articulately presents each episode with an evenness of perspective rarely heard in such soul-bearing work. Each trial she has faced in life is presented as a piece of the puzzle that her current, positive life has become, ending Outside Child with an anthem urging an appreciation of all life has to offer.
Russell is no stranger to Triple A radio through her previous bands, as evidenced by the warm reception for Outside Child. Already on dozens of stations, enjoying generous rotations on WRLT, KCSN, Colorado Sound, WDST, WFPK and KBAC.
Photo by Marc Baptiste