Allison Russell‘s cover series has already found the Birds of Chicago/ Our Native Daughters singer/songwriter posting a French-language take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and her moving version of Sade’s “By Your Side.”
In her latest homage, the Montreal-bred Nashville native finds a way to make Billie Eilish‘s already spooky “Everything I Wanted” even more haunting. Like the Mac cover, Russell sings “Wanted” in both French and English, layering ghost echo drums and chilly keyboards behind her haunted, multi-tracked bilingual vocals.
In a note about the Eilish track, Russell paid homage to both the original and the artist who created the dripping-paint cover of the “Wanted” single. “Niki Smith Frazier — whose art elevates these covers — is one of my dearest friends, and my chosen sister,” wrote Russell in a statement. “Niki loves pop music and has been my guide and teacher on many a late-night wine sipping, YouTube deep diving session after the kids were in bed. She is the one who first introduced me to the music of Billie Eilish. Her daughters, Ezra and Vai, my daughter, Ida, my niece, Ellie and I can all agree on two things — that Billie Eilish and Lizzo SLAY.”
Russell added that with so much loss, pain and separation hitting all of us in 2020, it was impromptu dance parties and singalongs to a soundtrack that was half Eilish, half Lizzo that brought some light and levity to her, Ida and her daughter’s dad. “I’ve been meditating on the imbalances of celebrity culture — how unfortunate our society’s tendency to first put people on impossible pedestals and then knock them down, particularly women,” she wrote.
“Billie’s grace under the magnifying glass of unsolicited public opinion has been remarkable and heroic. Her artistic output — stunning. For anyone — let alone one still so young. This song hurt my heart when I first heard it — perhaps reading too much into it — but I connected with it on a visceral level — it brought back memories of my own tormented teen years, when death was always a whisper away…It reminds me to be grateful for those rare and precious ones who see you and who love you — just as you are — and you do the same for them — we carry each other. Empathy is our currency. It gets better. You’re not alone.”
Russell can also be spotted this week on the premiere of the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary Reclaiming History: Our Native Daughters; her first solo album is due out on Fantasy Records in the spring.
Listen to Russell’s take on “Everything I Wanted” below.