Last October, The Weather Station released their third record, a self-titled, intricate offering that is unmistakingly, assertively the vision of songwriter and project leader Tamara Lindeman. Even the cover art, a stark monochromatic shot of Lindeman, suggests this singularity of vision.
“The last two records I made were just me and one other person, potentially,” Lindeman tells Vanyaland in advance of her Wednesday (April 4) appearance at Cafe 939 in Boston. “So this was my first time directing all of these different elements and trying to get them to work with what I had in my mind. And it was the first in a little while that I decided to basically produce the record and be in charge of it and not collaborate with someone. So that was really interesting to be the person making all of the decisions. I wanted to know what I could do if I actually just listened to myself. What can I create?”
The new LP contains some of Lindeman’s most poignant and relevant work yet. In lyrics and arrangements, it’s marvelously dense without being inaccessible; musings on the world at large that are both honest and unflinching. Truly a record of the time.
“When I really started thinking about what I wanted to say, a lot of things appeared,” Lindeman explains. “And I think the record comes from a place of general… anxiety and dread that a lot of people feel in the world right now. And that feeling was coming through the songs. But it’s also the feeling of you facing up to those dark feelings and also can realize this feeling of survival amidst all of those things.”
Comparisons to Joni Mitchell follow The Weather Station often. And it’s hard to deny that there is an element of that in Lindeman’s musical stylings. Lindeman is fully-aware of this.
“I think there is this simple thing where my voice is like a pale shadow of hers,” she admits. “And that’s basically where the comparison comes from. But it’s not like I sat at home and tried to sound like Joni Mitchell. I actually actively try not to sound like Joni Mitchell, I just can’t help it [laughs].”
But some of the biggest influences beyond The Weather Station came from sources other than the mighty Mitchell. Lindeman says that she drew upon the idiosyncratic songwriting of Bob Dylan and Kurt Vile, as well as the hard rocking elements of fellow Torontonian Neil Young. And perhaps even some of the same environmentalism that inspires the latter.
“Complicit” is a particularly stark, compelling cut. Stemming from Lindeman’s disquietude towards climate change and the response (or lack thereof) that society has given in the face of a seemingly-insurmountable problem. But this not a tired, predictable protest stomper.
“I think about climate change every day and I’ve never written a song about it,” Lindeman says matter-of-factly. “It feels so hard to approach these topics because a lot of songs that approach anything like that are supposed to be kind of political, protest songs. Because that’s a trope that people understand. I don’t really think that way. Especially not about climate change.”
“It feels so hard to approach these topics because a lot of songs that approach anything like that are supposed to be kind of political, protest songs. Because that’s a trope that people understand. I don’t really think that way. Especially not about climate change. So it was motivated, similar to the rest of the record, this feeling of ‘if not now, then when?’ If you don’t let yourself say these things now, when are you ever going to say them?”
The expanse, power, and punch of the record will be following Lindeman and her band on the road. “I’ve been coming to all of these shows with a four-piece band that is a lot louder… there’s guitar solos. And I worried, for the first two or three shows: ‘Are people going to be disappointed or want something else?’ But people are really stoked and excited.”
Boston will have its chance to catch a glimpse of these gripping tunes this week. And in a space as intimate as Cafe 939, it’s hard to imagine those walls containing all that Lindeman and the group have to say.