Published Oct 05, 2017Tamara Lindeman's self-titled fourth album is a record of firsts for the acclaimed Toronto singer-songwriter, who performs as the Weather Station. The Weather Station marks the first time Lindeman has self-produced since her debut, 2009's The Line; the first time she arranged her own string parts; and it's her first "rock'n'roll" record, written with lyrical flow in mind. "When you're saying 20 words in a phrase instead of five, you have so much freedom to slip things in," she tells Exclaim! "I can't play guitar solos yet, so I play word solos."
Lindeman enlisted drummer Don Kerr and bassist Ben Whiteley as well as guests including Ben Boye (keys) and Ryan Driver (flute and piano) and recorded the bulk of the album at Montreal's Hotel2Tango. She credits Kerr and Whiteley with being able to offer support without taking over. "Don has such a great presence," she says. "It felt like the record had a dad who was looking out for it."
Here are five surprises you may not know about the Weather Station:
1 Like her 2015 album Loyalty, The Weather Station was going to be produced by Afie Jurvanen (aka Bahamas), but he "peaced out."
Lindeman had a strong vision going into the studio this time but initially felt she had to have a producer. "I didn't feel like I was good enough at making decisions to be in charge," she says. "I was originally going to work with Afie [Jurvanen] on the record. He has all these sensibilities that I just don't have. He came to the first session, he gave some really good suggestions, but then he was like, 'Tamara, you don't need me. I'm going to peace out. You just need to do this yourself.' And I was like, 'Thanks Afie!' It was really sweet of him and he was totally right."
2 The record was created on a "wave of cockiness."
"I had to connect to this very cocky energy in order to write it and create it. I'm not a cocky person at all, but I just felt like I had to be that. All the men who I've seen make albums, and been a part of making albums with, have that. It's the way you have to be. If you're cocky, you can make decisions and if you're not it's really hard cause you can always see it from other sides. It wasn't that I thought I was better than people; it was cocky by necessity. I have to say what I mean and talk about all this stuff, otherwise what's the point?"
3 Topics include her relationship, her parents' divorce, politics and climate change.
Lindeman is a master at teasing out subtle shades in human relationships, but she's more disarmingly frank on songs like, "You and I on the Other Side of the World," a song partly about the moment that her partner, drummer Ian Kehoe, first entered her home.
"It wasn't like, 'Should we be together? I don't know if we should be together,'" she says. "It was, 'Well, we're together now, so …' This song is about the feeling I had, which is I just have to be with this person and maybe it's not going to be easy in some ways but that's the way it is."
Lindeman's recently divorced parents also show up. "I feel like a lot of the album is about my parents' marriage, politics and climate change," Lindeman says. "I felt very much like I was working with this idea of survival and not being defeated by things. You know, being cocky, like I said, cause you have to, for survival."
4 The biggest challenge was recording vocals.
"These songs were really hard to sing," Lindeman says. "I wrote them, obviously, and then when we were first recording with the band, I just couldn't do it, cause it was so hard to breathe. I had to learn how to breathe differently, cause there's so many words. I'd be recording and then I'd just be running out of breath. Over time I learned how to sing them and now I can sing them any time, but they were really challenging."
5 Ten years in to her career, Lindeman still receives tweets about the weather.
Lindeman has been performing as the Weather Station for about a decade, but her moniker still confounds people. "People will tweet at me, 'What kind of cloud is this?' or they'll tag me in pictures and it's always a sky. It's actually pretty sweet and it makes me enjoy Twitter in a way that I wouldn't if it was just me talking about my latest single. Sometimes I reply to people and they don't seem to notice and then tweet at me again. There was this guy who tweeted skies at me for six months. And I'd be like, 'Chad, you've outdone yourself. What a sky.'"
The Weather Station is out October 6 on Outside Music in Canada.