WEATHER STATION – ” Ignorance ” Best Albums Of 2021

Posted: February 9, 2022 in MUSIC
‘You could imagine singing along if the lyrics didn’t keep belting you in the gut.’ … Tamara Lindeman, AKA the Weather Station.

This is Tamara Lindeman’s fifth album as the Weather Station the album has a lightning-in-a-bottle quality that nothing she had released previously could quite prepare you for. At the end of 2018, she said, she was driven “insane” by reading a New Yorker article by environmentalist Bill McKibben, written as California burned during the most destructive wildfire season in history. She subsequently poured her anger and grief into the 10 songs on “Ignorance“. The lyrics occasionally slipped into something approaching straightforward protest songs but, for the most part, they entwine “climate grief” with what sound like words about a failing relationship to startling effect. She also shifted her musical focus, bringing in a new expansiveness and gloss – synths, disco beats, strings, sax and flute that carry a distinct hint of jazz about them. In purely melodic terms, these are Lindeman’s strongest songs to date, filled with nagging hooks and gracefully unforced-sounding tunes; the sound is smoothly, warmly appealing: you could imagine singing along to them if the lyrics didn’t keep belting you in the gut.

“Ignorance” was not an album that came out of nowhere. Former child actor Tamara Lindeman has been making great albums as the Weather Station for more than a decade, developing her sound from down-home acoustic guitar and banjo to atmospheric folky alt-rock and earning comparisons to Joni Mitchell from some critics in the process. While the latter seemed to have more to do with her vocal phrasing than her actual song writing, it gives you an idea of the regard in which she was held. Nevertheless, her fifth album under the name had a perfectly of-the-moment, lightning-in-a-bottle quality that none of her previous work could quite prepare you for.

Occasionally, you couldn’t tell what she was singing about – romantic heartbreak or paralysing despair at the thought of impending ecological catastrophe – or rather, you could take Ignorance’s songs either way. On Parking Lot, the everyday sight of a bird landing on a rooftop, singing “the same song over and over again, over the traffic and the noise” leads to floods of tears: “I know you are tired of seeing tears in my eyes, but are there not good reasons to cry?” asks the chorus, ambiguously. Separated could be about a couple falling apart, or it could just as easily be a depiction of frustration at an endlessly combative era of sharply divided opinions: “If you wanted to understand me you could / If you wanted to hold my hand you would.”

As Lindeman has pointed out, she is “a writer of the small event”. Her songs feel all the more effective for the way they focus in on detail rather than painting in broad brushstrokes, and for the way she avoids sloganeering in favour of something more complex and believable: frequently admitting to feeling overwhelmed, or expressing a desire just to forget or ignore what’s happening, at least for a bit. Its loveliest track might be Atlantic, which finds Lindeman first looking out, bedazzled, at a sunset over the ocean, then desperate to switch off from current events. “I should really know better than to read the headlines,” she sings. “Does it matter if I see it? / No, really, can I not just cover my eyes?”

The Weather Station’s new album ‘Ignorance’ out now.

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