Entertainment

Tamara Lindeman’s New Album ‘Ignorance’ Explores Climate Change

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Some musicians are forced to write a song after a love argument, an encounter with a great work of art, or a particularly resonant overheard exchange. Tamara Lindeman, the 36-year-old Canadian singer and songwriter who records under the name Weather Station, was recently forced to write one immediately after reading an article about the oil and gas company Exxon Mobil.

“When I say this, it sounds very esoteric or political or strange, but it’s very personal to me,” she said on a video call from her home in Toronto on a Monday morning in January. Her sandy blonde bangs hung as long as the brim on her brown suede jacket. Name the songs on their piercing record “Ignorance,” due February 5th, Hymns of Ambivalence: Lindeman wrote most of them about a “strange winter reading obsessively about climate change” and fell in love with a certain toy keyboard with a built-in drum machine.

At the same time, she also attended Fridays for future demonstrations in Toronto and hosted a series called Elephant in the Room for which she interviewed other musicians and activists on climate change.

“Your eyes are open,” said Ben Whiteley, who has played bass on their records and in their touring band since 2017. “She’s an incredibly nuanced thinker who is very aware of the human emotional state. So she said, ‘We have to deal with the emotional side of climate change.”

Lindeman said she was experiencing “climate sickness” and that it had to do with other problems in her life. “I was born in the 80s and grew up understanding that climate change is real. It’s something that people didn’t really understand is happening to younger generations. “She added that her generation” was born into this world that looks like this: Oh, by the way. The future will be apocalyptic. But do your thing! ‘It’s very strange. “

“I feel as useless as a tree in a city park that symbolizes what we have blown apart,” sighs Lindeman over the poignant “Tried to Tell You”, which puts his poetic, observant melancholy in one haunting blow. (She found the band she needed to get the weight and lightness of the album between weight and lightness in Toronto, including two drummers, jazz saxophonist Brodie West and Tegan, and Sara’s keyboardist Johnny Spence.) On that solid, percussive foundation Lindeman’s nimble voice moves from airy falsetto to earthy alto with the grace and audacity of a diving bird.

Joni Mitchell often thinks of hearing the weather station; Lindeman also cites the more recent work of indie musician Weyes Blood, who gave her “permission” to use songs to explore her relationship with a sick planet with an almost romantic intensity.

The song that was lit after the Exxon Mobil article is “Robber,” the distinctive leadoff track. Blushing anew with anger and betrayal, Lindeman was repeating a booming chord progression for which she had previously written an entirely different set of lyrics. She began with a phrase that came to mind: “I never believed in the robber.” It meant a few different things to her at the same time – the lies at the heart of so many collective cultural myths; The ease with which individuals are held responsible for problems caused by larger institutions – a sign that it is moving in the right direction.

“I think the metaphors or emotions that make me want to write or finish a song are always the ones that are complicated,” she said. “If I can’t get to the bottom of an idea, I’ll most likely make a song.”

Although Lindeman’s music doesn’t sound like Drake’s, their origin stories are strangely similar: both are former Canadian child actors who have managed to reinvent themselves as respected musicians in adulthood. Under the stage name Tamara Hope, Lindeman was a steady streak throughout her youth, and her IMDb page is a somewhat surreal journey – a role as Tilda Swinton’s daughter in the thriller “The Deep End”; the title character in “Guinevere Jones”, a Canadian-Australian TV show about a high schooler with magical powers that Merlin himself bestowed. “I think if I could go back in time I would say, ‘This is not for you,'” she said with a laugh before suddenly becoming more ruminant.

“I was grateful in many ways, but personally I think it was a dangerous job because it’s very weird psychologically,” she said, especially for an actor who is not the star. “You have to come up and say your lines and hit your grades, and people just come and touch you, dress you, touch your face. You have no autonomy. It was very protective of me because I had this experience and was broken up by my job. “

Music offered a more liberating option. In her early twenties, Lindeman devoted herself to her first passion, singing and composing songs. She released a number of increasingly bold and well-received folk albums as Weather Station (“I’m happy the nickname I picked when I was 20 wasn’t terrible”) on Canadian labels.

“Ignorance”, their first album for the American label Fat Possum, is likely to attract an even larger audience. It also gave her an opportunity to make peace with her professional past by making her own music videos. The results are dazzling and disarming: they restore mundane indoor activities in the middle of the forest, while Lindeman’s finely calibrated facial expressions convey a subtle sense of surrealism and discomfort.

“I forgot that she had this whole other life,” said bassist Whiteley, who also worked on the videos. “I said, ‘She knows how to do this. This is their old world. ‘As people get older and more comfortable, it’s easier to bring back old parts of you. “

While Lindeman toured tirelessly for her self-titled album in 2017, turning strangers’ eyes on her night after night, she got ache from that loss of selfhood that troubled her as a young actress. She kept asking herself: “What can I wear on stage so that I feel less exposed?” She was going through a male wear phase and toyed with the idea of ​​making an outfit that looked like it was made of grass (“didn’t work”). Then while scrolling Instagram she saw someone wearing a suit made of mirrors.

“I said, ‘Oh my god! That’s it! ‘”She said. “Because it makes you invisible. It felt like a visual metaphor for what it feels like to perform and know that people, for good and bad, bring their own emotions to you as a performer and expect you to reproduce them. “She made it herself to wear in the music videos and on the cover of Ignorance. However, it’s about as comfortable as an outfit made from broken glass can be: “I can’t sit in it. It is difficult. It’s a pretty ridiculous thing. “

The mirror suit is also an opportunity to blend in with your natural surroundings and to become one with the flora and fauna that “ignorance” wants to preserve. “I tried to wear the world like a piece of clothing,” she sings on “Wear,” a sparse and seductive meeting of head and heart.

Through making music, Lindeman feels that she has gradually regained her artistic autonomy, but she has also wondered whether all songwriters are naturally somewhat selfless – walking mirrors that dissolve in their surroundings and the shared fears and joys of their time reflect.

“Something I’ve recognized throughout history about classic songwriting like Motown songs or Beatles songs is that they take a feeling out of the air that everyone feels and then just turn it into a melody,” said Lindeman . “There’s something beautifully alchemical about it.”

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Robert Dunfee