Ignorance by The Weather Station
- INTRO: Feeling: Deep Climate Grief
- REVIEWS: The music press has high praise for Ignorance.
Check out reviews from The Guardian, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Exclaim!
- VIDEO INTERVIEW: In February, Lindeman (aka The Weather Station) did a candid and informative interview with host Tom Power on CBC Radio q. Watch it on YouTube (22 mins)
- PLAYLIST: Ignorance on YouTube and Spotify
International Women’s Day
To mark IWD Kurated spotlights one of Canada’s most intriguing and talented women singer-songwriters. Tamara Lindeman has been recording as The Weather Station for the last 12 years. The Toronto-based musician caught attention in 2017 for her self-titled album featuring the song Thirty. Her new album, Ignorance, marks another significant step forward in her musical journey.
FEELING: DEEP CLIMATE GRIEF
On her fifth album as The Weather Station Tamara Lindeman turns a confident voice towards a new theme and musical sound
“Post MeToo there’s this blossoming of women such as myself trusting their voices a bit more,” Tamara Lindeman says in a February interview with music publication Uncut. “I’ve found it really empowering.”
“I think as a young person in my twenties I was very shaped by the intellectual and artistic writing and film and music of men,” she says, “which is great, and I have no qualms about any of the stuff I’ve absorbed…But I feel I’m still learning how to be myself, because the programming is so powerful. And, as I read all of these women’s writers it just gives shape to my experience.”
Twelve years into recording as The Weather Station, the Toronto-based musician’s fifth collection presents a mature artist taking charge of her musical persona. Released in February, Ignorance explores bold new musical ground far from her folk singer roots. The sound is full with orchestral arrangements, propulsive drumming and synthesizers deftly balanced with her soft and sure vocals.
The record – well received internationally and widely covered in the music press – also sees the singer-songwriter turn her attention to what she labels climate grief.
Measuring the emotional climate
It seems like a natural fit for a band named The Weather Station to address the issue. But it’s a serendipitous connection. Lindeman’s concern turned serious just two years ago when she became active in the climate crisis cause. Her lyrical focus on Ignorance is metaphorically similar to what happens at the stations she named her band for: she takes the temperature of an off-course world that consumes without conscience; she measures the emotional climate of uncertainty and distress.
“I didn’t think that I was writing climate grief songs,” she told the CBC’s Tom Power on Radio q last month. “The album is not meant to be political or educational. It’s just emotional.”
But she came to understand that those emotions about the state of our planet are intense.
“”I thought why not give these feelings as much heart as people have given the eternal love song. I mean it is as profound an emotion.”
Vancouver music writer and colleague Chris Wong describes Lindeman’s approach: “It’s an album about the climate change crisis that succeeds in saying something insightful about the subject matter because the words and music have metaphorical impact. Tamara Lindeman never sounds preachy or literal-minded, which would have been dull. Instead, she crafted great songs like Robber, and there’s no doubt about who the robber is. Greta Thunberg would approve.”
The album’s opening song says:
No, the robber don’t hate you
He had permission
Permission by words
Permission of thanks
Permission by laws
Permission of banks
White table cloth dinners
Convention centers, it was all done real carefully
It’s a cool and compelling piece which opens with a foreboding musical drone. Driving drums are joined by an understated, urgent vocal set against energetic, restrained orchestration. Piano and jazzy saxophone lines wind in and out. The elements combine to make a dramatic musical setting for this tale of complicit theft in broad daylight.
What about hope?
In the CBC Radio q interview host Power asked Lindeman if she has hope about climate change. As with her lyrics, her forecast is typically realistic: “I have moments of pragmatic hope based on what’s changed in the last two years…there’s all of these little glimmers of hope that it might not be as bad, but it’s still extremely dire,” she says.
“I see other people fighting and that makes me feel better…so there’s a few little shifts. But I would be amiss to say that things are hopeful.”
Thanks to my friends and Kurated readers Mia Edbrooke and Chris Wong who told me about this album.
And welcome to the new subscribers this week!
Stay tuned and enjoy,
07 March 2021
The Weather Station’s fifth album has garnered positive reviews in the music press. You can check out Metacritic to have a look. Four excerpts are included below from The Guardian, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Exclaim!
The Guardian: A heartbroken masterpiece
by Kitty Empire / The Guardian : 5 Stars
Art often seeks to wring beauty out of pain – always at the risk of mawkishness or cliche. The Weather Station’s fifth album is an undertaking that succeeds – many times over.
It’s the sort of record whose victories deserve to be accompanied with trumpet fanfares: how Toronto-based Tamara Lindeman quietly revolutionises an old, familiar trope – the pop album about heartbreak, co-starring piano and strings – and makes it a rallying cry for our times; how she takes overdone old 80s beats and dusts them with the barest shimmers of jazz.
Such is the will-o’-the-wisp quality of Ignorance that it feels vulnerable to the glare of forensics. You don’t want to break open the music box in order to describe its workings. And yet: here is a left-field pop record full of muted fury and despair; one that never howls outright, but trickles out emotion in careful dropperfuls – in a partial vignette here, or a quiet epiphany there. Read more
Rolling Stone: Incredible new album is a visionary environmental plea
by Jonathon Bernstein / Rolling Stone 4 Stars
For the past decade-plus Canadian singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman, who records as The Weather Station, has been offering up piercing introspections on a series of decreasingly folky albums, beginning with the bedroom roots of 2009’s The Line. From the very start, Lindeman has put her own off-kilter, stark spin on traditional idioms, like on 2017’s “Thirty,” from the band’s self-titled breakthrough, where a daydream about a gentle embrace spins out into a sprawling remembrance about anti-depressants, gas prices, and the strength of the Canadian dollar.
But if The Weather Station established Lindeman as a compelling storyteller for a broader audience, her new album, Ignorance, solidifies the 36-year-old as one of the most audaciously inventive auteurs working in the broad singer-songwriter tradition. This 10-song collection broadens the Weather Station’s sonic palette by foregrounding fluttering flutes, crisp orchestral sections, and, most importantly, a propulsive rhythm section (“wanting to dance and to sing ‘in the rhythm of,” as Lindeman sings at one point). Alternating between glassy piano dance grooves and somber noir-folk explorations, the result is an album that sounds like a millennial Joni Mitchell fronting jazzy versions of LCD Soundsystem or the National, depending on the song. Read more
Pitchfork: Lindeman arrives on the Weather Station’s fifth dazzling album
by Sam Sodomsky / Pitchfork 9/10
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. By listening closely, you are sharing her headspace, invited into a private world. Her songs are anthems for those of us accustomed to spending long stretches of time in silence, or being asked repeatedly “What are you thinking about?”
This introverted style has suited Lindeman’s work as the Weather Station, a project that has evolved over the past decade from sparse solo recordings into an ambitious full band with frequent string accompaniment. In a pivotal song called “Thirty” from 2017’s self-titled album, Lindeman fully assumed the role of bandleader. Without sacrificing the acute, observational detail of her early work, it felt like a breakthrough. Her voice became impossible to ignore. “I noticed fucking everything—the light, the reflections, different languages, your expressions,” she sang with desperate anxiety, as if speeding through her usual landmarks to set a foothold somewhere new. Read more
Exclaim!: Weather Station finds the music to match her poetry
By Kaelen Bell / Exclaim! 9/10
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 Irish writer Robert Lynd said, “In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” Ignorance is a record in search of that silence. Across ten tracks of jazz-influenced, liquid-silver art rock, Lindeman grasps at the world thrumming just beyond our punishing screens and endless news cycles, beyond our emotional and physical walls. As she sings on “Parking Lot” after the bird has left her sight, “Everywhere we go there is an outside / Over all of these ceilings hangs a sky.” Read more
CBC RADIO q interview with Tom Power