Singer-songwriter Allison Russell is a force on the Americana scene, and made an impressive debut in 2021 with her acclaimed solo debut Outside Child. This week brings news of Russell’s followup: The Returner will be released on September 8th, just two weeks before Russell performs at the 2023 XPoNential Music Festival, and its title track is out now.
The song opens on a hushed and minimal note, low guitar tones mixing with Russel’s voice, but it gradually builds up with gospel harmonies and sleek country drums, peaking on a bold pop chorus of elegant orchestral strings and affirmations. “I’m worthy of all the goodness the world’s gonna give to me,” Russell sings, later adding “If you think you’re alone, hold up, I’m coming.” It’s pensive and supremely positive, all at once.
“My goal with The Returner – sonically, poetically, and spiritually – is a radical reclamation of the present tense, a real time union of body, mind, and soul,” Russell says in a press release announcing the record. “This album is a much deeper articulation of rhythm, groove, and syncopation. Groove as it heralds the self back into the body, groove as it celebrates sensual and sexual agency and flowering, groove as an urgent call to action and political activism.
“In just a word, it’s funkier,” she continues. “But as is the history of anything funky, it’s never just a party. It is a multiverse of energies that merges the celebration and the battle cry. For while an embrace of the present tense is a celebration, it is equally an unquestioning leap into battle – cultural, political, environmental.”
Listen to the title track to The Returner below, revisit her NON-COMM performance while you’re at it, and pre-order the record here. The album’s credit list includes collaborations with Wendy & Lisa of Prince’s band The Revolution, Brandi Carlile, Brandy Clark and Hozier. Allison Russell tour dates includes an appearance at the XPoNential Music Festival on Sunday, September 24t. Tickets and more information can be found at the festival website; Russell’s full tour itinerary can be found here.