Release Date: Feb 5, 2021
Record label: Fat Possum Records
The fifth album by The Weather Station, the indie folk project helmed by Tamara Lindeman, starts at a whisper. Robber, the opening song, kicks off with the tapping of a hi-hat before blossoming into a beautiful stream of nervousness. As a solid beat starts to settle in, a haunting piano and a striking string part is added. Somewhere in the background is a squawking horn, ratcheting up the tension.
On Loyalty and The Weather Station, Tamara Lindeman's music evolved by leaps and bounds. On Ignorance, she reaches another peak. When the Weather Station's tour for their 2017 self-titled album ended, she spent months researching the enormous impact of climate change. She attended demonstrations and hosted a series of discussions with other musicians and activists, but Lindeman had to explore the issue -- and people's resistance to addressing it -- in her music.
Because her lyrics are often the focus, and because the accompanying music could most succinctly be described as "folk," Tamara Lindeman has a singing voice that is easy to overlook. But it is where much of her power lies. The 36-year-old songwriter and former child actress from Toronto is not the kind of singer who demands your attention but the type who doesn't seem to care whether you're listening at all: Dipping between her hushed lower register and a breezy falsetto, her delivery flows as an internal monologue.
Although the album isn't let as completely off the leash again, the remainder of Ignorance also marks a dramatic departure from hushed past templates. The more muscularly electrified sections of 2017's excellent The Weather Station suggested an artist straining against the self-imposed constraints of the folk-orientated minimalism that guided much of, say, 2015's Loyalty. Even so, Ignorance's warm embrace of the sleek textures and pulsating dynamics of the classier ends of '80s pop/rock - without this being a bloodless pastiche exercise, and with engaging rough edges in place of anodyne perfection - is an unexpected move - but a welcome and ultimately transformative one.
Four songs into the Weather Station's shape-shifting Ignorance, Tamara Lindeman finds herself outside a club and looking to the blue: "I watched some bird fly up and land on the rooftop / Then up again into the sky / In and out of sight / Flying down again to land on the pavement. " There's beauty and possibility in that nervous zig-zag, so cellular and plain and awake. There's an ache, too, in seeing it lift just out of reach: "You know it just kills me when I see some bird fly / It just kills me / And I don't know why.
The Weather Station's new album, 'Ignorance', willfully constructs a new negotiating power of heart and time in its 10 tracks. Toronto songwriter Tamara Lindeman beautifully offers musical arrangements that once again reinvent the tonality of The Weather Station. Since their last album in 2017, there is a new urgency in their overall rhythm that feels impactful, but still centres at the emotional.
Breathy without fluster, Tamara Lindeman's voice is marked by a confident lack of hostility as she courageously exposes her innermost vulnerabilities and concerns with a hushed dignity. Now five albums deep into her career under the name The Weather Station, a veneer of relative normality and uniformity of style betrays the complexities of the arrangements and the control she has at her disposal. A resolute and constantly changing approach to making music also indicates a considerable sense of artistic progression, and so the acoustic musings that marked her 2015 release Loyalty have been recalibrated and her palette expanded to incorporate shuffling immersive disco and navel gazing lounge bar atmospherics.
In times when you can go from TikTok to Top 10 in the tap of a screen, it's a miracle just how under the radar The Weather Station have flown since their beginnings in the early 2000s. Yes, those in whatever "the know" means these days have touted Toronto-based songwriter Tamara Lindeman and high review scores have duly followed. Yet whether it was the soul deep heartache, the lyrical nature rambles, the oh-so understated delivery or whether we had just had enough folk at the time, it didn't quite break through.
Ignorance by The Weather Station Stylish, jazzy and fully-orchestrated, The Weather Station's fifth full-length adds a layer of sophistication to Tamara Lindeman's restless, hyper-articulate art. "The Robber," an early single, is quite possibly the best song she has ever written. She keeps it taut as a telephone wire on anxious, reverberating drums and darting swoops of strings, but lends a smoky aura of late night contemplation through cool jazz keyboards and blowsy flights of saxophones.