Toronto's Tamara Lindeman is The Weather Station. After listening to her latest Paradise of Bachelors record, it clearly does not matter whether she is/is not or has/has not a band - Lindeman is a brilliant songwriter first and foremost. "The Weather Station" is that rare breakup album that captures the strange optimism of losing your past and the odd comfort of privately reveling in the best parts.
Lindeman says that she writes songs merely about things that exist. What these tracks are about is largely left up to you as she casts a spell on you with her Joni Mitchell-esque voice and unique lyrics. After listening to it multiple times, her most thought-provoking lyrics are the most beautiful and hold the keys to discovering your connection with these songs.
"a you and I we are complicit/you and I were never blind"
Every relationship whether it is intimate or merely on the surface involves some "unspoken voice" laying blame. On "Complicit," Lindeman poetically describes that point where there is comfort in the noise and the silence between two speaks volumes. She switches mid-song to singing no longer what cataloging what the other person is doing, but to what she is doing and as the pace builds – memories begin to intercede.
"I wanted to set it all down so it would open to you like a flower"
The Richard Thompson-esque "I Don't Know What To Say" moves along gently at the pace of a resting heart. Lindeman braids her lyrics through the most minimal drums and guitar chords before a beautiful orchestral bridge gives us the resolution before even she gets it. At the point, Lindeman's resolution arrives – she is wordless and finally twists it around (similar to Liz Phair's album-ending "Stratford-On-Guy" where it was all a dream).
There is a similar turn of events in the beautiful "Impossible" as the steady rhythm seems to beat out tires on a road. This pace and the small details of travel put her in a kind of "reverse-fugue" state" where the mundane details of marriage and home life take on the hectic pace and seem like Herculean tasks. As the album rolls over this mysterious fallen relationship, it continues to push the conclusion that it is often the cataclysmic events we survive and learn from – while, the torrent of the smallest events is what does us in.
"All these years I followed you, it never occurred to you to follow me."
"Free" is the album's peak. A stunning study of dissolution with a sunny wordless chorus. Lindemann begins by questioning the aegis of a relationship. Her getaway is to "drive and drive" and decipher that the relationship is in fact many relationships wrapped into one. As the music swells with the exploded view of this effect, she arrives at the simplest conclusion. One beautiful note changes and the strings enter quietly, patiently bringing this stunner to a close.
On this her fourth album, Lindeman jokes that it is her "Rock N'Roll album." She uses her "band" sparingly. The snare drum is tuned very low and the bass kicks are often softly felt. The bass parts generally occupy the midrange and high notes counterbalance her vocal melodies. However, the strings are beautifully used. While they are present on most tracks, they never sound maudlin and always support her beautiful melodies.
"I cannot look twice without falling right into the sweet and tender line between something that I can and can never be"
"Thirty" is the inescapable song on "The Weather Station." At first, it seems like yet another amphetamine-fueled run through the age old story of growing old more differently than those around you. However, as Lindeman debates herself between high and low voice at the crux of the song ("That was the year you were thirty/That was the year you were thirty-one") – something else is illuminated. "Thirty" is about being alive. Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things suburban life and its trappings make some of us happy. Lindemann is happy to laugh "effervescently over nothing." In the end, we do what makes us happy and numbers merely pass us like gas stations on the road or tears from our eyes.
"The Weather Station" is an album that demands that you listen and feel something for the music. These are short stories to get lost in. These are stories lit by universal events in all our lives. These are stories tuned to all of that exist.
Mik Davis is the record store manager at T-BONE's Records and Cafe and a GED instructor. At other stations of life, he has been a musician, writer and much more. However, he would much rather talk about music.