Allison Russell’s ‘Montreal’ Is a Mesmerizing, Bilingual Love Letter to Her Hometown [LISTEN]
Allison Russell, the singer-songwriter known for her work with Birds of Chicago as well as Our Native Daughters, is releasing her first-ever solo album, Outside Child, this month. Ahead of the project's debut, the singer has shared "Montreal," a mesmerizing, gentle tribute to her home city.
The track, which offers both French and English lyrics as a tip of the hat to the bilingual title city, remembers Russell's experience of growing up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She had a traumatic childhood, lost her home and lived for a time as a teenage runaway -- but in "Montreal," the singer describes the city as a healing force that sheltered her and kept her safe.
"In this track, I give thanks for my wondrous hometown of Montreal," Russell explains in a press release. "I was a teenage runaway -- I believe in many ways the City herself protected me. I wandered the Mountain at all hours, and slept in the graveyard in the summertime. I haunted the Cathedrals and slept in the pews. Sometimes I stayed up all night playing chess with the old men in the 24-hour cafes. I got to hear Oscar Peterson play for free in the park during Jazz Fest ... I was very lucky to grow up there."
In many ways, the song sets the stage for Russell's forthcoming collection: She describes Outside Child as her statement of resilience, healing and survival as she moved through her difficult childhood and ultimately found herself, and a chosen family, in Nashville. In addition to chronicling her experience, the forthcoming album will feature a number of those musical chosen family members. Yola, Erin Rae and the McCrary Sisters are just a few of the artists who contributed to the project.
"It was just about making these songs live and breathe in the most honest way," Russell explains. "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 due out on May 21. The same day at 9PM ET, Russell will perform a livestream show via Bandcamp -- the first time she and her full band will perform the songs on the new album. Ticket sales will benefit the Black-led collective The National Bail Out's #FreeBlackMamas Initiative.
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