By Jof Owen
The kind of record that only comes around once in every generation.
Allison Russell follows up her widely adored Outside Child with an album of joyful defiance and a battle call for cultural, political and environmental survival.
The Returner takes in everything from 60s girl group pop and gospel to slamming 70s George Clinton-esque avant-funk and the jazzy, meticulous melodies of Miles Davis.
Written and co-produced by Russell along with Dim Star (her partner JT Nero and his brother Drew Lindsay), The Returner features an astounding all-female musical collective she dubbed “The Rainbow Coalition”, and it amplifies that the key to everything Allison Russell does is freedom. Her songs begin and end whenever she wants, fragmented or extended out into giant symphonic choral mantras. The result is something that sounds like a wild otherworldly cross between Beyoncé and Laura Nyro.
The Returner is a truly astonishing record. Melodically intricate, carefully performed and thematically overwhelming - encompassing Black liberation, Black love, Black self-respect, life, death, love and politics - it’s the kind of record that only comes around once in every generation.
If Millie Jackson had climbed into the sandpit and made a record with Brian Wilson in the early 70s it might sound something like The Returner.
The Returner is out now via Birds of Chicago / Fantasy Records.