Allison Russell – The Returner

Allison Russell - The Returner



4.7/5 Pros

  • Very mature, professional recording
  • Wide range of songs and moments

In May 2021, I shared with you the review of Outside Child, the solo debut album by Canadian folk/Americana artist Allison Russel. On 8th September 2023, she is back with a new long-play. Here is my review of The Returner.


Allison Russell – About The Artist

Allison Russel was born in Montreal, Quebec. Before turning solo, she was part of several collaborations like Po’ Girl, Birds of Chicago or Our Native Daughters. However, her 2021 significantly boosted her career and reputation. The most prominent reflection is likely the nomination of the album as the Best Americana Album at the 2022 Grammy Awards. The song Nightflyer got two more nominations. However, Russell won in neither category. Russell has been the winning artist in several other award ceremonies in the same year. You can find some more bio in the Outside Child review.


Allison Russell – The Returner – Track by Track

The ten track album lasts 44 minutes.

1. Springtime

The opener Springtime is a blend of folk, soul and even a bit of gospel. Especially when the song is developing on the instrumental side towards its middle, it almost has symphonic qualities. Another interesting fact is that the artist is altering between French and English lyrics.

2. The Returner

The second song of the album is the album title. The choir-alike backing vocals lead to a very intense atmosphere. The solo vocal parts of The Returner feel even more personal and intimate in contrast to that. A very mature and deep song and a lovely listen, indeed.

3. All Without Within

All Without Within is very rhythmic and rather touches the spirit of R&B and soul. The arrangement with different vocals levels remind me of some 1990’s Madonna songs as well.

4. Demons

The first four songs already present a nice range of songs. The intense work with different vocal levels and backing vocals is a common element so far, though. Demons is rather stripped down on the instrumental side. However, the light piano melodies and the bass and drums groove leads to a really cool listen.

5. Eve Was Black

With Eve Was Black latest, the album is also entering religious grounds. The over six minutes song and comes with theatric style and a lot of intensity. The song feels to built up until its climax before it is also having some very joyful elements.

6. Stay Right Here

After this intense listen, which rather reminded me of classical song structures, Stay Right Here is a rather easy pop song. The strings lead to a special touch to the song, which is overall rather reminding of 1980’s pop songs – especially if you would replace the guitars and strings by (even more) keyboard sounds.

7. Shadowlands

The multi-vocal style of the songs on The Returner feels to become a bit of chaotic here and there at Shadowlands. Sounds very negative, but most of the times, it just works out. The bass solo feels surprisingly funky – and when the strings are added to the bridge, the album delivers another new experience. Cool.

8. Rag Child

The indie-folk-gospel style of previous continues at Rag Childs. However, this song feels dark, melancholic. The rather slow groove adds to this feeling. Good production, even though the song is definitely not my favorite one.

9. Snakelife

Snakelife (or Snake Life – I funnily received both spellings…) has been the least single release before the album. The song is another rather theatric one, which is changing the mood a couple of times during its duration of 4:38 minutes.

10. Requiem

You feel that there are some more familiar voices than Allison Russel herself? This 6:14 minute closing song features a rather top-class backing choir – Brandi Carlile, Brandy Clark and Hozier supported the main artist in this song, which indeed comes in a requiem style. Again, the song alters between English and French. I am not religious at all, but without a doubt, this listen is intense.


Allison Russell – The Returner – Spotify

Here is The Returner on Spotify


Allison Russell – The Returner – My View

Wow, not only as the finale is blowing me away, The Returner is an impressing album, which is featuring a wide range of different songs. I definitely feel that it is stronger than her solo debut – which has already been an impressing one. I am quite sure you will like it, too.

Favorite Song: Stay Right Here


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