British Soul Sensation Tours U.S., Makes Trans Video With Simpsons Star
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
May 01 2013 6:00 AM ET
"Adele, watch your back” was a warning published last week by Rolling Stone, because yet another U.K. soul sensation is about to take over the States. Alice Russell, who kicked off her U.S. tour this week, just released a special U.S.-only edition of her fifth album, To Dust (Tru Thoughts/Caroline) to much acclaim. She makes her U.S. TV debut tonight on Jimmy Kimmel Live, followed by a visit to Los Angeles public radio station KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, an appearance at Amoeba Records in L.A., and performances on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, Seattle’s KEXP, Philly-based World Café, and WNYC’s Soundcheck.
Russell, known for her concerts (at the Montreal Jazz Festival, 4,000 people stood swaying in the rain while she crooned) and her famous fans (including Gilles Peterson, Massive Attack’s Daddy G, Groove Armada, and Questlove). David Byrne said that "working with a singer like Alice was something new, terrifying, and ultimately amazing."
Of course it's her video for "Heartbreaker" from the new album that is causing waves among some fans. The Steve Glashier-directed video features Simpsons voice actor Harry Shearer out of male drag and donning women's clothing and makeup. As Russell belts out lyrics including "There's a river in my mind and it won't stop running just for you," Shearer appears to become the woman that's been inside all along (or at least the T-girl). Having the 69-year-old Shearer — who voices 21 characters on The Simpsons, including Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders — as the only character, a closeted trans woman perhaps, in a video about heartbreak and sense of self is brilliant.
You can find tour dates for Alice Russell and her band, the Park, on the next page.