Allison Russell – of Birds of Chicago, Our Native Daughters and…. umm Allison Russell solo – has started a song covers project, taking on songs that might not have been immediately of thought of as “hers” an very much making them so. She has already produced versions of songs by Sade and Stevie Nicks, and on this take on Billie Eilish’s ‘Everything I Wanted‘ Russell also reclaims her childhood tongue, the French of Montreal.
As Allison Russell explains “I grew up afraid and ashamed all of the time. I learned to make myself very small and very quiet in order to survive. My adoptive father – my primary abuser – was intensely controlling of all aspects of my life and of our constantly shifting households. He was particularly tyrannical about what we were allowed to listen to. Almost anything written after 1820 was banned. Anything not written or appropriated by a white man was banned. I ran away at 15 to escape his violence…and a whole new universe of sound opened up to me. Music saved my life. I learned that women could write music too. I discovered that I was a musician; that I was a writer. But I was a listener first. Every time I listen to a modern song that moves me it feels like resistance. These brilliant artists – Billie, Sade, Stevie Nicks – powerful writers all, make me feel brave and fully human. These songs each create a world that I want to visit and revisit. They sound like freedom to me. I have tried to do them some justice while finding my own truth within the songs. I have taken loving liberties and translated some of their poetry into French. I have been missing the language of my Montreal childhood, trying to reclaim those broken years. May these interpretations bring some comfort. Here’s to Hope and Healing for this New Year.”
Photo: Francesca Cepero