In fact, Loyalty — recorded last February in La Frette-sur-Seine in France with Bahamas' Afie Jurvanen and engineer Robbie Lackritz (Bahamas, Feist) — flirts with pop and jazz forms, bursting into spurts of levity and flurried movement amidst still, reflective periods. But it just flirts; Loyalty is undeniably a folk album, underpinned by Lindeman's finger-picked guitar, spacious piano and banjo, her husky, timeless voice having taken on a new maturity, every word now clearly articulated.
It's a driving album — not in a rock-out-and-crank-the-tunes sense, but it's about journeying. Lindeman is behind the wheel in a number of the songs, though they never are merely about driving. Opener "Way It Is, Way It Could Be" is exhilarating, fast and textured, Lindeman's vocals suddenly leaping: Has she hit the dogs on the highway she fears she has, or not? Are the people in the car a couple, or not? "Floodplain," conversational and brave, recalls Joni Mitchell, Jurvanen's drums somehow standing in for windshield wipers on a rainy highway. "Personal Eclipse," meanwhile, is a slow-motion memory of a trip to California with her sister, of a time when Lindeman didn't experience loneliness the way she does now.
Some of the best songs on Loyalty don't involve travel: the jazzy "Shy Women," clearly the centerpiece, explores what goes unsaid between two women, feigning toughness and independence while the heavy-loaded ice-covered trees outside accrue pathetic fallacy; "Like Sisters" is the kind of sad, slow, confessional ballad usually reserved for love songs, but this time it's a troubled friendship being unpacked; "Tapes" meanwhile, is a beautiful elegy for Lindeman's first love, who gave her the gift of setting her on a musical path. (Paradise of Bachelors / Outside Music)