Album of the Week: Outside Child by Allison Russell
Outside Child is the debut solo album from Allison Russell, but she is not new to the music scene. One-half of folk duo Birds of Chicago (with her husban JT Nero), Russell was also a member of the supergroup, Our Native Daughters, alongside Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla and Amythyst Kiah.
Born in Montreal to a Grenadian teenage single mother, Russell ended up in the foster care system when her mom struggled with undiagnosed schizophrenia, eventually losing custody. They were reunited after her mother had married to a man who would end up to be her adoptive father and eventual abuser before Russell ran away. Homeless, Allison would spend nights in a cemetary in Montreal, while still continuing her education at an art school. As a teen, she discovered folk music, which connected with Russell in a way she hadn't experienced before.
Before Outside Child, Allison hadn't really done much songwriting since her daughter was born. She thought all of her creative energy was going to being a mom, and didn't think she had it in her to write anymore. Not only that, but her writing before her daughter had been telling stories through characters, not necessarily her own. That changed while she was on tour with Our Native Daughters. The supergroup had a mission to tell Black Women's stories that have been mostly hidden from the narrative up until now. While on the road, she started connecting back to her Grenadian roots, which eventually turned into channeling her autobiographical stories into song, giving us Outside Child.
Tune in this week to hear from our album of the week!