Review: The Weather Station, Loyalty
Toronto-based artist Tamara Lindeman’s third longplayer has just landed. Melissa Barrass checks it out:
‘Loyalty’ kept putting me in and out of sleep. This is not a bad thing at all. It wasn’t from boredom, rather a fixer after a tough week of excessive overtime at work. It contributed to bringing my mind away from stress and reality, and last time I checked, that’s what music was made for. I had reserved the weekend for the sweet vocals of Toronto singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman of the Weather Station, and consequently fell asleep to what I would describe on par with the voice of an angel (cliché to the max, but bear with me). As I am relatively new to the folk scene, I can only compare Katie Noonan’s trademark whispered vocals and of course Joni Mitchell’s innocent and sweet range to Lindeman’s in her LP ’Loyalty’.
Because the album continuously placed me in varying levels of slumber, I found myself replaying the music until the lyrics stuck and I had reached some form of outcome. From the acoustic guitar, hints of the vibes, piano and banjo, each track on ‘Loyalty’ is heavily layered and a few listens are needed to make out the lyrics and discover the depth applied to the songs. ‘Loyalty’ is truly breathtaking, and anything heavier in terms of percussion or passionate guitar strums would dismantle the beauty behind the warm production that pieces the LP together.
‘Loyalty’ on the surface is soft and beautiful; it gives off a first impression of relaxation and encouragement in turning off one’s brain. However, the songs are obviously much deeper, complex and poetic, but has been masked by the sweet vocals and fingerpicked guitar work, as if created to be played as you lay on the grass in the sunshine in a meditative moment.
‘The Way It Is, Way It Could Be’ is the opening track and is an easy favourite with its whispering and floaty vocals, skipping beats – there is a sense of adventure and excitement. ‘Floodplain’ is another song worthy of a mention for its delightful acoustic chords that are catchy and filled with sweet vocals weaving with more solid deeper vocal tones. The song hits a beautiful upbeat that gets the listener excited but, before you realise how great it is building up, the song ends, leaving the listener yearning for more.
The album is personal, and is especially concerned with the connections that build and falter around us through confession, regret and puzzled thoughts. Lindeman’s voice doesn’t extend past a gentle melodic whisper as if she is sharing her feelings only with people within earshot. The 11-track LP seems like a continuous journey of externalising and addressing her complexities with the people in her life through thought and observation that see common personal interactions exposed but not completely vulnerable, especially in the track ‘Like Sisters’ (her lyric writing is often ambiguous).
Overall, ‘Loyalty’ is light, mellow and calming – at least in sound. You would want to play this after a long hard day, offering your soul a chance at peace for the evening, a chance to unwind at the masked beauty of Lindeman’s light breathy vocals as she analyses the deeper complexities of memory, reunions, and even involves the listener by switching from first to second person in songs ‘I Mined’ and ‘I Could Only Stand by’ in particular.
‘Loyalty’ requires a fair amount of effort and attention to follow whispering vocal and lyrical details, and with that being said, the album is best enjoyed when looking to escape thought processes, schedules and the qualms of everyday life – just switching off.
Loyalty will be available on virgin vinyl as an LP, with heavy-duty matte jacket, full-color inner sleeve, and full lyrics, as well as on gatefold CD and digital formats. The vinyl edition includes a digital download coupon.
Review by Melissa Barrass.