On the way home from seeing Tamara Lindeman’s (The Weather Station) Loyalty release show in Toronto last week, a man on the streetcar spotted the vinyl I had bought at the show and was holding and reached over (yikes!) to see it. He looked it over and, noting the front cover and the similarities between my and Lindeman’s hair, asked, “is that you?” I laughed and said, “No.”
“Is that you?”
In a way, yes, I suppose it is. Lindeman’s songs are incredibly rich and detailed, sometimes happy but often tragic. They are human. They are so relatable that it’s easy to see yourself amongst her narratives. A shy woman or like a sister.
Arguably all songs contain a story but for Lindeman each of her 11 new songs really could be short stories. An emotionally fraught car ride (“Way It Is, Way It Could Be”), making a change (“Personal Eclipse”), and a tale of a startling discovery (“Tapes”) are just a few of the compelling vignettes from the album. They are worded with such care that you see the “two brown dogs,” smell the “smoky cups of coffee,” and hear the original tape owner sing, “Oh.”
Kicking up the romanticism of the album a little bit more, Loyalty was recorded during the winter of 2014 in Paris with Afie Jurvanen (Bahamas) and Robbie Lackritz assisting Lindeman in its creation. The sound in turn is noticeably different from All of it was Mine. At times it’s more expansive but most notably it’s softer and more confident than other recordings.
The picked acoustic guitars in “Loyalty” and closer “At Full Height” are bolstered by a piano and “Floodplain” uses drums and gorgeous harmonies to uplift the song to the hopeful place it deserves to be. In “Like Sisters” or the stark “Tapes,” Lindeman’s voice is also the strongest I’ve heard – clear and powerful – making her already weighty words have more depth.
For those who know me, the follow is not a surprise: Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station) is the best contemporary folk artist in Canada. I almost said just that in my review of Lindeman’s EP What Am I Going To Do With Everything I Know, released last year, but chose my words a little less boldly. With the release of Loyalty though, there’s nothing left to say.
Top Tracks: “Way It Is, Way It Could Be,” “Personal Eclipse,” “Tapes”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*