This morning, Pitchfork published an interview and small writeup on the record. Done by the lovely gentleman Grayson Currin, who also had some incredibly kind things to say about the record. An unfathomably warm March day made warmer by Southern generosity.
All of It Was Mine, the second album by Toronto’s the Weather Station, was released last August on the small Canadian imprint You’ve Changed. It’s the kind of record that you don’t need to rush to hear; plain but elegant, simple but intricate, the mostly acoustic songs of tremulous singer Tamara Lindeman aren’t the type of numbers bound to light up music blogs for the next week or two, then fade away.
Rather, they’re built with concise and precise images, sung sweetly over sounds that split the difference between transcontinental folk fathers Doc Watson and Bert Jansch. It’s a fool’s errand to suggest that anything is timeless, but as they hint at lust and flirt with the future, Lindeman’s proudly diffident love songs do seem preternaturally sturdy.
Over the gently traipsing banjo of “Trying,” Lindeman pauses one line into the last verse, as though in final attempt to gather some resolve and direction in the world. “I am trying,” she sings, pausing again to let the instruments momentarily expire, “for some kind of grace.” The song stops there, Lindeman leaving a deliberate disconnect between self-improvement and self-fulfillment. Her songs feel very much like attempts to understand and appreciate the world in spite of its bitter ills; like the most basic forms of folk music, a term Lindeman readily embraces, they come with intent and aim.
The Weather Station: “Everything I Saw”:
The Weather Station: Everything I Saw (via SoundCloud) Stream
We spoke to Lindeman about eight artists, encounters or circumstances that affected the outcome of the Weather Station.
I was 20 years old and living in Toronto, which was a really exciting place for music. It hadn’t occurred to me to make music myself, but I was going through a really hard time. I had a roommate who made rap music, so I borrowed her software. I had a banjo and a guitar, and I couldn’t play either particularly well. It didn’t occur to me to write songs, but it was like, “I feel this way, so I want to make a recording that sounds like this,” like a landscape.
I had a mixtape that was songs from Thought for Food and The Lemon of Pink. The Books’ whole idea of taking songs, putting them together and making music out of them made up for the fact that I couldn’t really play my instrument fluidly. I could play little sounds and cut it together to sound really cool, and I could put some effect on it. That’s how I started making music—kind of an ass-backwards way of getting into it.
It’s so easy to get drawn into the Books, because it is so poppy and so approachable. But to me, it was the opening up of this whole idea that anything can be music. The sounds of everyday life become musical, which is so romantic and so exciting. Before I knew it, I could sit down at my computer and have something that felt like that.
The same time I was going through my Books phase, I was also learning banjo. And because I was learning banjo, I was learning about bluegrass. There are a lot of incredible bluegrass players in Toronto, and I just got into it because, when you’re learning banjo, you just get floored by really good playing. You realize how incredibly hard it is. I’ll never be a good bluegrass player because I don’t have it in me to be that nerdy. I have this theory that people are always drawn to opposites in music, to things that are the opposite of them. Bluegrass is so deranged in this weird way—so controlled, so tight, so narrow, with so little room for expression. That’s infuriating and appealing. It’s fascinating that you give your life to this art form that’s not dead but no longer moving.
I came to guitar through banjo. When I started to learn the banjo, I took bluegrass lessons, so I learned a few classic, Scruggs-style bluegrass banjo rolls. But I immediately wanted to make that crazier, so I made my own rolls. I played banjo in a rock’n'roll band, but when I started to write songs, it was such a difficult instrument to write songs on. Out of sheer laziness, I de-tuned the E strings down to D because then it was in tune with the banjo, so I understood where all the chords were.
Musicals, Choirs, and Growing Up in the Country
I grew up in the country. I had a lot of space, so I would definitely sing walking around in the woods, just to myself. I listened to musicals and classical music, so I sang that kind of stuff. I was in a choir that sang songs from musicals, so my friends and I learned to sing the harmonies in choir. Now, harmony singing is the easiest thing for me to do, and it naturally leads you to a pop sensibility.
I think of singing as the most simple form of communication. It’s the reason I’ve wound up where I am, where I just play and sing. Singing is all that matters to me—the well-sung song.
At the time I made this record, I was really overcome by material things. I’d moved around a fair bit in my early 20s, and I finally found myself stationary, living in this same house for a couple of years. I was really interested in what objects and surroundings and environments mean. I went through this summer of being obsessive with plants: I’d be walking down the street and constantly craning my neck to see what was growing in the sidewalk. The record is about an end that I didn’t really understand was coming but would show up in lyrics very subtly. You can say so much without talking about your feelings.
She lives in Toronto, so I see her all the time. Her presence is so powerful that people are either really confused and don’t know what to do with themselves, or they’re really drawn in. Something witchy happens when she sings. Her songs aren’t classically written songs with a plot, but her voice manages to carry everything she says.
Her first record is so simple. The first time I heard it, I had all these disparaging thoughts about it: “Oh, it’s so horribly recorded. What’s with all these crazy guitar solos? It makes no sense.” It grew and grew on me until I considered it my favorite records, because it is what it is. In an interview, she talked a lot about imperfection and how she wanted to make a record that allowed for imperfection.
He’s not a good singer, but he’s an incredible singer. The worst tendency of young people is to over-sing everything, but his expression is so perfect. His voice is the perfect conduit for his lyrics. He has a great understanding of this: “I can write a lyric down, and I can’t sing it. My voice doesn’t suit it. But there are other things my voice does suit.” If you can’t sing it, it probably means that the lyric isn’t true.
Being in a Rock Band
By the time I was about to make this record, I had a really big band. I wanted to make music that was really intelligent and thoughtful, so I worked really hard at these songs with complicated time signatures. I was really into looping pedals, and I had two percussionists. It just didn’t work; people didn’t respond to it. It was a true release to realize I didn’t need any of that stuff. When you’re standing in a crowd watching a show, what you really respond to is a person and what they’re saying to you.
I used to think it was really exciting to be abrasive. With my record, I was really proud just to say, “Here’s a record with nothing else going on, no bells or whistles. It’s just story and songwriting and finger-picked guitar and harmony, and this is how much you can say with this.” I understand that isn’t really in vogue, or it comes in and out of vogue, but maybe it’s intrinsically good? –Grayson Currin