Allison Russell, the singer-songwriter, poet and co-founder of Our Native Daughters and Birds of Chicago, has today shared the track “The Runner” as another taste of her first solo album Outside Child, which follows on May 21 on Fantasy Records.
The new song features acclaimed British singer Yola, described by Russell as “my beloved chosen sister.” She says the song “is about music saving my life and setting me on the path to healing and freedom.” It follows the release earlier this month of “Montreal,” inspired by Russell’s home town, and the earlier “Persephone” and “Nightflyer.”
They’re all from the full-length, which is produced by Dan Knobler and has contributions from many members of the creative family she has found both in Montreal and her adopted home of Nashville. As well as Knobler and Yola, they include Erin Rae, Jamie Dick, Joe Pisapia, the McCrary Sisters, Ruth Moody, and Russell’s partner JT Nero.
“It was just about making these songs live and breathe in the most honest way,” she says. “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 is about resilience, survival, transcendence, the redemptive power of art, community, connection, and chosen family.”
Poet and songwriter Joe Henry says that the album “draws water from the dark well of a violent past. 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.”
Russell has also announced a livestream concert on album release day, May 21, via Bandcamp. It will feature the artist and her band playing songs from the new record live for the first time, and will take place at 9pm ET/8pm CT. Tickets are on sale via Bandcamp, and proceeds will benefit the National Bail Out #FreeBlackMamas initiative.
This Black-led collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists is building a community-based movement to end systems of pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration.