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 out seemingly everything with new abandon (though of course it's still edited, still crafted, still poetic) in a rapid-fire flurry sometimes — as on "Thirty," a jumbled recollection of ideas and things happening all at once, laughter and joy in hard times, and "Kept it All to Myself," a new kind of love song. It features synths and flying, nose-diving strings conveying a giddy romp full of intense feeling. "My love is the heaviest thing, I understand if you don't want to wear my ring," she sings, with urgency. But it's also a song that touches on newfound confidence: "I felt that confidence in me, like a child in a strange new body."
Not only did Lindeman produce the album, recording in Montreal at Hotel2Tango with a core band of herself, Don Kerr (drums) and Ben Whiteley (bass), but for the first time, she wrote her own string parts — and they sound almost as natural and integral as her vocals, which are sometimes nearly spoken this time around, alternating between hushed bluesy talk-singing in the vein of Laura Marling and smooth, breathy high notes. Also prominent is Ryan Driver's flute playing (on "Thirty," "Black Flies" and "Power"), Ben Boye's keyboards and skronky electric guitar alongside the acoustic songs. Oh, and swearing: "Gas stations I laughed in, I noticed fucking everything: the light, the reflections, different languages, your expressions," Lindeman sings on "Thirty," posturing almost as if she were taking a sax solo, but with her voice.
The Weather Station is Lindeman's loosest, most confident album yet, but it may also prove to be her most deeply psychological; she doesn't hold back. Alongside the ups and downs of her own relationship, she tackles her parents' divorce, her relationship with her father and ideas about being free and coming into her own, finding her power — all against the backdrop of uncertain, stressful times, as on the almost spoken "Complicit," when she repeats bad news heard on the radio: "Another shooting, floods creeping in the lowlands, and everybody's shouting, and I just hold your hand." (Outside)