Alice Russell is universally acclaimed as one of the best modern soul voices of our time, while her raw talent and charisma commands attention and affection. The much-loved British soulstress returns with the most personal album of her career, ‘I Am’ and shares the emotive lead single ‘I See You’, a piano ballad about overcoming adversity despite experiencing trauma through childhood, and the idea that other people’s narratives of who they think they are, doesn’t ever need to become true. Talking about ‘I See You’, Alice explains:
“I felt like I was singing to the child, but also the child that dwells in many seemingly grown-up people, walking around their sadness and pain, arrested development as no one ever showed them the way and let’s face it, takes a certain kind of allowance, safety and strength to be ready for therapy, and many don’t get to that point of being able to see their own beauty.”
Initially recorded for Brighton Festival, Alice Russell and TM Juke were approached by Lemonade – a location-based music exploration platform – to compose a song on the festival’s theme of ‘Care’ (picked by guest curator, author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay). ‘I See You’ was auditorily placed around Brighton, where attendees wandering around would get to hear the song in specific locations.
Built from a piano riff and reverbed kick drum, the vocals for the track were recorded in solitude in Alice’s box room (with a lock) in her house. Sat with all these stories and feelings, a rare moment happened where the lyrics came out all at once: “Be tender with this heart. Cards gripped tight, changed to skin.” ‘I See You’ follows up the self-reflective ‘Rain’, which marked the official return of Alice Russell and was praised by Lauren Laverne (BBC 6Music), FIP, and Mornings Become Eclectic (KCRW).
Written and produced alongside long-time collaborator TM Juke, ‘I Am’ is the first offering of new music from the iconic singer in over a decade and marks a new era in the remarkable career of the down-to-earth vocal powerhouse. This summer, Alice graced the main stage of Gilles Peterson’s We Out Here, supported Nile Rogers and performed as part of a tribute to Aretha Franklin across France, marking her return to the stage, where she belongs.
Life, loss and grief have been a central part of this period and a new approach to creating music: “Two little ones have joined me, and one has left – my dad passed away the summer after ‘To Dust’ was released. The day after my Dad’s funeral, I found out I was pregnant with my first little one.” Alice continues: “The grief journey has cracked me open and created a more urgent need to be focused and try to go deeper with how I communicate creatively and who I AM today, and I welcome it with open arms”.