Outside Child

Allison Russell

Allison Russell - Outside Child
May 21, 2021
Allison Russell
Fantasy Records
Producer: Dan Knobler

Born and raised in Montreal, Russell imbues her music with the colors of her city – the light, the landscape, the language – but also the trauma that she suffered there. It is a heartbreaking reflection on a childhood no one should have to endure, and at the same time a powerful reclamation – asserted from a place of healing, of motherhood, of partnership – and from a new home made in Nashville. Outside Child features contributions from many of the artistic family members she has found there including Yola, Erin Rae, The McCrary Sisters, Ruth Moody, producer Dan Knobler, Jamie Dick, Joe Pisapia, and her partner JT Nero.

“It was just about making these songs live and breathe in the most honest way.  We were laughing, we were crying. And the communion between musicians, I hope people can hear that on the record. It felt like magic.”

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.”

In the end, Outside Child is not only a radical reclamation of a traumatic childhood and lost home, it is a lantern light for survivors of all stripes – a fervent reminder of the eleventh hour, resuscitative power of art. “Allison’s new album, Outside Child, draws water from the dark well of a violent past,” says poet and songwriter Joe Henry.” “The songs themselves ––though iron-hard in their concerns–– are exultant: exercising haunted dream-like clean bedsheets snapped and hung out into broad daylight, and with the romantic poet’s lust for living and audacity of endurance.”

Nightflyer

When I was sixteen I read The Thunder: Perfect Mind for the first time – it’s an exhortatory poem discovered among the Gnostic manuscripts in the Nag Hammadi library in the 40’s. It has never left me. I’ve been meditating on the nature of resilience, endurance, and grace more deeply since becoming a mother. I was trying to bridge the divide and embrace shame and my inner divinity equally with this piece. The burden and the balm of our lineages that we all carry. We all come from long lines of survivors. I believe my Ancestors must have been protecting me all along. And now my daughter, Ida, carries their strength…- A

Yeah I’m a midnight rider
Stone bonafide night flyer
I’m an angel of the morning too
The promise that the dawn will bring you

I’m the melody and the space between
Every note the swallow sings
I’m 14 vultures circling
I’m that crawling, dying thing
I’m the smoke up above the trees, Good Lord
The fire and the branch that’s burning, Lord
Maybe you were sleeping, Lord,
But Mary she’s not weeping no more, no

Yeah I’m a midnight rider
Stone bonafide night flyer
I’m an angel of the morning too
The promise that the dawn will bring you

I’m the sick light of a hurricane’s eye
I’m a violent lullaby
I’m six fireflies, one streetlight
I’m a suffocating summer night hmm mmm

I’m each of his steps on the stairway
I’m his shadow in the door frame
I’m the tap tap of a lunar moth
I’m the stale beer on his breath hmm mmm

His soul is trapped in that room
But I crawled back in my mother’s womb
Came back out with my gold and my greens
Now I see everything
Now I feel everything good lord
What the hell could they bring to stop me Lord?
Nothing from the earth, nothing from the sea
Not a God Almighty thing

Yeah I’m a midnight rider
Stone bonafide night flyer
I’m an angel of the morning too
The promise that the dawn will bring you

I’m the wounded bird, I’m the screaming hawk
I’m the one who can’t be counted out
I’m the dove thrown into battle
I can roll and shake and rattle hmmm mmm

I’m the moon’s dark side, I’m the solar flare
The child of the Earth, the child of the Air
I am The Mother of the Evening Star
I am the Love that Conquers All

Yeah I’m a midnight rider
Stone bonafide night flyer
I’m an angel of the morning too
The promise that the dawn will bring you

Nightflyer Record Credits:

Written by Allison Russell and  JT Nero
Allison Russell – lead and harmony vocals
Jason Burger- drums, percussion, apple cider vinegar bottle
Jamie Dick- drums, percussion
Dan Knobler- guitar
Drew Lindsay- Wurlitzer
Chris Merrill- bass
JT Nero- acoustic guitar
Joe Pisapia- electric guitar
Produced and Mixed by Dan Knobler
Mastered by Kim Rosen
Engineered by Kevin Sokolnicki & Dan Knobler
Fantasy Records

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