Tamara Lindeman has embraced the motion of becoming a front woman, and The Weather Station’s sound is all the brighter for it. This is the fourth album from folk singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman and co. under The Weather Station moniker, following on from 2017’s self titled The Weather Station. With over 10 years under their belt the Canadian outfit have shifted and changed a fair bit in that time, coming from their simple guitar lead folk beginnings they now return with an album that’s as full of grandeur as it is heartbreak.
Throughout this album Lindeman wears the weight of the world on her shoulders, quite literally on “Wear” as she sings “I tried to wear the world like some kinda garment”, questioning her own comfort in the world. It can be hard sometimes to differentiate whether she sings of heartbreak in her personal life or of the world around her, but this only adds to the depth that is felt within Lindeman’s words. On “Seperated” she sings of the way in which the world communicated with each other through social media, and the vast divide in opinions that leads to great levels on disparity. “Separated by all the arguments you lose, Separated by all the things you thought you knew”. Taken out of context however you would assume she is referencing lost love.
That’s not to say however there aren’t some true moments of heartbreak sewn within. “Loss” revels in the realisation that accepting pain is often easier than trying to tell yourself that it’s not there. “Loss is loss, Is Loss” she assuredly repeats on the chorus; repetition as of hope to remember. Then closer “Subdivisions” breathes through its piano ballad verses and excruciatingly beautiful chorus deliveries to sing of a journey of escape, only to come to the revelation that maybe it was all a mistake. “What if I misjudged, In the wildest of emotion, Did I take this way too far?” Lindeman sings as the song closes out, and this question is left open to ponder with nothing left to say.
Taking from that notion however she looks to nature to find the beauty that still thrives throughout the world. “You know it just kills me when I, See some bird fly” she remarks on “Parking Lot”, revelling in the notion of the way society must be perceived by nature and the parallel beauty and sadness of knowing that they can do nothing against the destruction we cause. On “Atlantic” she muses in the notion of trying to turn yourself away from the tragedies of the modern day “Thinking I should get all this dying off of my mind, I should really know better than to read the headlines”. Of course we all need breaks at times when looking out into the travesties that happen on a daily basis, sometimes however it feels we can’t escape them and Lindeman invokes this feeling as she closes out the songs with “Oh tell me, why can’t I just cover my eyes?”; she can’t escape the ignorance.
From the minute this album starts you can hear the confidence and emotion pouring out at every seem. The jazz-centric fanfare of “Robber” sets the tone for the whole album, evocative in understated embellishments of emotion. There’s something subtly cool about the instrumentation used in this album, always used as a spacey and flowing backing force for Lindeman’s vibrant storytelling, never becoming to reaching or overpowering. “Parking Lot” feels like it could be a cut straight off of The War On Drugs’ Lost In The Dream as the rolling piano line dances and drives the track along backed with waving violin melodies and a driving groove. There are moments where the stringed sections swoon with pure grace and emotive drive, like on “Separated” that builds to an almost unsettling climax, to be gently backed down by Lindeman’s crooning falsetto. There can be other moments where the instrumentation gets a bit too loose and unmemorable. “Wear” has all the grandiose in its chorus of other cuts on this album but doesn’t offer too much in the way of variety and some of the background flairs feel a bit too last minute.
But perhaps the most understated, yet continually powerful sonic element of this album is Lindeman’s effortlessly cool vocal performance. She never tries to reach out too far beyond her reach, and yet you can hear every last bit of emotion as she narrates this tale of earthly ignorance. She’s not hear to sing her heart out to the heavens, but to give her perspective of a broken world, and well if you want to listen then that’s up to you. At moments her vocals can become buried in the soundscape, becoming intertwined in the backing melodies, however this only makes you appreciate the grander moments even more.
A triumphant and heartbreaking collection of groove filled, challenging and naturally free-flowing songs is the end result of what Lindeman and co. have created here. Not only defining their sound and voice, but refining what The Weather Station can be on a grander and ever expanding scale.