There have been a number of excellent records released over the past week — from Holly Herndon, from Luke Vibert, from Trevor Jackson, — but this week The Weather Station’s exceptional new album gets the vote.
“Loyalty”, the third and finest album yet by The Weather Station (and the first for Paradise of Bachelors) wrestles with these knotty notions of faithfulness / faithlessness – to our idealism, our constructs of character, our memories, and to our family, friends, and lovers – representing a bold step forward into new sonic and psychological inscapes.
It’s a natural progression for Toronto artist Tamara Lindeman’s acclaimed songwriting practice. In excess virtue lies danger or at least limits to pragmatic action – it’s a lesson hard learned by anyone disillusioned by the erosion of youthful mythologies. Strict fealty to a fixed ideal of identity doesn’t do us any favors as adults.
“The record was called Loyalty from the beginning—it was the first decision I made about it. Says Lindeman. It’s a word you usually see written in copperplate script, a virtue: LOYALTY. But the songs don’t treat it that way, just as a thing to unpack. It’s a force that you have to reckon with: loyalty to the dream, to the “work,” to the mythical idea of “you” that somebody thought they saw. It can be a weakness as much as a strength; it can keep you from the reality of your own life, your own self.”
Building upon the success of All Of It Was Mine, and follow-up What Am I Going To Do With Everything I Know, Lindeman’s vocal sound, and skilled songwriting is inherently influenced by Joni Mitchell, able to convey desire and pain with equal clarity.
The beautiful lead single, “Way It Is, Way It Could Be,” is somber but Lindeman is comfortable in its wandering melancholy. Listeners should make sure to hear other highlights “Shy Women”, “I Mined”, “Tapes”,”I Could Only Stand By” and album closer “At Full Height”. Lindeman has taken ownership of her distinctive sound with Loyalty and the result is an emotionally, heavy country-folk album that takes it to another level.
Recorded at La Frette Studios just outside Paris in the winter of 2014, in close collaboration with Afie Jurvanen (Bahamas) and Robbie Lackritz (Feist), the record crystallizes her lapidary songcraft into eleven emotionally charged vignettes and intimate portraits, redolent of fellow Canadians Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and David Wiffen, but utterly her own.
The Weather Station have crafted a classic album and more importantly created a piece of music that is utterly timeless.
1. Way It Is, Way It Could Be
4. Shy Women
5. Personal Eclipse
6. Life’s Work
7. Like Sisters
8. I Mined
10. I Could Only Stand By
11. At Full Height