Up to now, the work of Toronto songwriter Tamara Lindeman was easily identifiable as folk—fingerpicked guitars and banjos accompanied by sweetly sung vocals, delivered with a lo-fi aesthetic that began to develop into something more on the band’s self-titled fourth album in late 2017. That record saw Lindeman beginning to explore a fuller sound with the rotating cast of backing members she has employed since The Weather Station quietly arrived in 2006, and yet it couldn’t have prepared audiences for Ignorance. With its full blown orchestration and sprawling rock band, this is as hi-fi as it gets—and Lindeman has never sounded so at home, conducting a veritable symphony of disco, pop, and stadium-ready rock in a superstar turn.
“I used to be an actor, now I’m a performer”
From the earliest moments of Ignorance, it’s clear to see that this record is not only a reinvention of The Weather Station sonically but also its protagonist and star performer. ‘Robber’ bursts into life with melodic tension as saxophone, strings and percussion swell while Lindeman’s vocals soar above the music like never before, a newfound power entrenched deep within the thirty-six-year-old’s voice that carries into the piano laden power pop of ‘Atlantic’ and radio rock single ‘Tried to Tell You’ on a spellbinding opening trio.
Lindeman takes to the stage here like never before, dazzling with an unmistakable showmanship and delivering a lyrical masterclass as she contrasts moments of introspection and self analysis with fierce social commentary, casually mixing in gorgeous offhand observations of the beauty in the world around her while mourning its inevitable demise.
“Well everybody’s talking
And I know its important and I
Should pay attention”
Climate change anxiety as a theme for an album isn’t likely to be one that would sell most audiences, especially in a year where perhaps most already feel like they have enough to worry about with the current state of the world. Yet Lindeman manages to deliver a poignant, piercing study on the environmental crisis with a personal narrative that’s both arresting and refreshing, giving pause and allowing listeners to consider these topics on a level they may not have related to until now.
“Thinking I should get all this dying off of my mind
I should really know better than to read the headlines”
Crucially, the band leader avoids the easy pitfalls of condescending or lecturing takes, instead emitting a sense of grief tinged with wary optimism as she cherishes the natural world while effusing a feeling of sorrow that never feels overwrought or disingenuous. The emotional depth of these essays is no more affecting than on the outstanding ‘Parking Lot’, a celebration of the natural world that finds Lindeman simply studying a bird above the city traffic with a level of poetic majesty befitting the bombastic, stirring groove laid down by band and string section on the album’s finest moment.
“Is it alright if I don’t wanna sing tonight?
I know you are tired of seeing tears in my eyes
But everywhere we go there is an outside
Over all of these ceilings hangs a sky”
Truly, Lindeman’s lyrics are lifted at all times by her musicians—whether it be the straight up disco-pop hooks of ‘Separated’ and ‘Heart’, or the tender arrangements of piano ballads ‘Wear’, ‘Trust’, and closer ‘Subdivisions’, with the jazzy finesse of their rhythm sections. This is a rich band performance that matches the complexity of their songwriter’s discourse all the way through its sublime forty minute runtime.
“Of all the many things that you may ask of me
Don’t ask me for indifference
Don’t come to me for distance”
On Ignorance, The Weather Station boldly execute their vision for the world and themselves by delivering a work of considerable artistry and stunning depth, executed with the kind of spectacular delivery merited by a message of great significance. It’s a transformative moment for Tamara Lindeman and our privilege to witness it.