Episode 86 of The JamBase Podcast, a partner of the Osiris Media Network, features an interview with singer-songwriter Allison Russell. JamBase’s Andy Kahn interviewed Russell, who recently released her debut solo album, Outside Child.
Though Outside Child, which was issued in May by Fantasy Records, is Russell’s first album under her own name, she is a member of Birds of Chicago and the critically-acclaimed Our Native Daughters. Russell was recently nominated by the Americana Music Association for Emerging Artist Of The Year, as well as Duo/Group Of The Year with Our Native Daughters, which includes Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla and Amythyst Kiah. In the interview, Russell discussed the significance of being part of the Americana community and what it means to be recognized as an “emerging” artist 20 years into her career.
With Outside Child, Russell addressed the trauma of her childhood growing up in Montreal. She suffered horrific violence and abuse that led to her leaving home at age 15. As evidenced in the interview, Russell is able to speak about her trauma with an incredible amount of poise and clarity, though she explained it took years to be able to do so.
Russell is a champion of survivors like herself and through her actions and art seeks to break the generational cycle of abuse. She doesn’t hide from what happened in her past, but she also doesn’t let it define her.
Russell explained how motherhood helped inspire her to write what became her debut solo album, which was co-written by her husband and Birds Of Chicago bandmate JT Nero. She talked about the experience recording Outside Child at the historic Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville with producer Dan Knobler. Russell shared details of the sessions that took place over four days, including the participation of guests The McCrary Sisters, Erin Rae and Yola.
The chat also touched upon Russell’s time during the pandemic (Yola lived with Russell near Nashville for much of the past year), her excitement to get to tour again and perform the album’s songs before live audiences, and much more.