Release Date: Oct 6, 2017
Record label: Paradise of Bachelors
Tamara Lindeman, aka the Weather Station, is one of Canada's best songwriters. On her gorgeous 2015 album, Loyalty, she was careful and exacting, almost perfectionist in her writing — each metaphor talking to the next, each idea paired with its alternate conflicting idea as if to express doubt and hesitation and reflect the strain of constantly striving for understanding, reconciliation and kindness. For her self-produced, self-titled fourth album, a new spirit has entered the room. The Weather Station sees Lindeman boldly blurting ….
The fourth album from Tara Lindeman aka The Weather Station is this year’s most remarkable feat of songwriting. It shares a commonality with the greats. Lindeman is an orator of life, one that is so superb that she is beyond it, while simultaneously being embodied within its light, colours, joy. Although Lindeman is often compared to fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell, their methods are incomparable.
Tamara Lindeman’s work as the Weather Station has always been an interrogation of the self: putting sparse, intricate music to the narratives we construct from our lives and memories. While Lindeman often includes other characters in her songs, their presence mostly leads to deeper insight into her own mind. In “Shy Women,” from 2015’s Loyalty, she observes another woman’s increasing hardness with age, “as though it were mine.” In another track, she sings about a friend who looks so similar to her that they get mistaken for sisters.
Although there are traces of, say, Bill Callahan’s unhurried ruminations on life, memory and moving on, as well as the simultaneously outwardly observant and introspectively analytical lyrics of Joni Mitchell (often a lazy point of comparison for female songwriters but actually apt this time around, especially as unhurriedly evolving, swirling likes of “Free” bring to mind a less smooth take on Mitchell’s Court and Spark), Lindeman has managed to come up with a fresh songwriting style: not exactly an easy task this late in the game. Listening to The Weather Station can feel like dipping into someone’s diary entries (although we’re hardly dealing with the rambling minutia of Mark Kozelek; Lindeman employs a lot more of the songwriter’s compelling craft), even if you’re never sure whether she’s singing about her own life or dreaming up short stories in song form. .
On her new self-titled album, the Weather Station’s Tamara Lindeman set out to make what she calls a rock ‘n’ roll record that sounded nothing like rock ‘n’ roll. That’s an apt description for an album that amps up the intensity far beyond her previous efforts. Two years after her breakthrough album, Loyalty, and four records into a career that’s seen the Toronto singer/songwriter shift subtly away from Americana and neo-folk, the new self-produced, self-titled effort leverages those touchstones toward a sound that’s fully her own.
The Weather Station’s fourth album in 10 years shows that chief songwriter Tamara Lindeman’s desire to keep pushing her creativity into previously uncharted waters is undaunted. This eponymous bash is more sonically expansive than 2015’s Loyalty but still a very idiosyncratic take on knee-skiddin’, fist-pumpin’, groupie-humpin’ rock’n’roll. The arrangements are dynamic with a flint-like toughness and display a range of approaches. Opening track Free is as deft and agile as beating sparrows wings with lyrics that pertain to everybody’s favourite form of everyday sexism, mansplaining, “You were always so adamant, you told me that the one thing I was missing that I didn’t know/I was free….
Tamara Lindeman's decision to make the latest Weather Station album a self-titled one speaks volumes about the musical material within. Four albums in, The Weather Station reveals an artist in full bloom, as Lindeman has pruned her process to move beyond the beautiful, confessional style of critically acclaimed albums past to create an elaborate, holistic statement that honors the complexity of the artist who created it. Lyrically, Lindeman finds the freedom to celebrate intimacy and lament distance, acknowledge beauty and trace old scars-all enmeshed in a wild bouquet of musical varietals from sparse solo piano to pulsing near-rock rhythms and guitar lines.
Photo by Shervin Lainez When your self-titled album is not your first album, there's usually some kind of declaration going on. The Weather Station is The Weather Station's fourth long player, but the first where bandleader Tamara Lindeman called all the shots. Previously the Canadian singer and actress had reined in her instincts in deference to collaborators, but this time she's insisted on a sound that's a bit less buttoned down.