Thanks to Pitchfork for a wonderful, thoughtful review of the new EP, What Am I Going To Do With Everything I Know. It is always the most rewarding to be understood.
The EP is now available worldwide on Itunes, E-music, etc. And in its best form, a 12 inch, 45 RPm 180 gram vinyl pressing, at www.youvechangedrecords.com via mailorder. In Canada, it should be available at your local independent record store.
What Am I Going to Do With Everything I Know
By Grayson Currin October 17, 2014 – 8.1
The climax comes so quickly and so quietly that you may never detect it at all. In the final minute of “Almost Careless”, the near-whispered lilt that closes The Weather Station’s splendid six-song EP, What Am I Going to Do with Everything I Know, Tamara Lindeman stumbles upon one of the most important questions she may ever ask, simply while walking to the park. During a momentary break in the gentle supporting rhythm, she remembers what she posed to the boy whose gloved hand she held: “‘What if we get married?’” she sings, her voice cracking into an audible smile as she climbs the final word’s syllabic slope. “I said it almost careless, as though it was nothing to me.” Lindeman, her sudden fiancé and the band behind her treat the peak with equitable nonchalance. He blushes and nods, she narrates, and they turn and walk, the pedal steel between her voice and the drums guiding the pair like a soft flashlight. Instead of Hallmark strings, Lindeman gives her tremendous moment the deference of restraint.
That same subtle and balanced approach defines all of What Am I Going to Do, a 17-minute record that finds Lindeman moving from abject loneliness to impending marriage without ever becoming loud, fast or bothered. The Weather Station’s terrific 2011 LP, All of it Was Mine, used similar understatement to offer an elliptical picture of love fracturing, with the changing seasons turning innocent sweetness into hard-won self-sovereignty. But these short and intertwined tunes portray the stepwise process into love. They seem, however, written and played from a distance, so that the butterflies and doubts have settled into a graceful, logical arc. Lindeman’s voice flits and cracks, peaks and valleys, comforts and cries, not unlike that of Joni Mitchell. But she possesses the unwavering patience of Bill Callahan’s later records, delivering every word and worry like she’s pondered it all into acceptance.
On opener “Don’t Understand”, she worries that she’s “irreversibly free,” or forever alone, as she tries to sleep on a stranger’s couch. But over drums brushed so softly and organ played so faintly you might mistake them for a ghost in the studio’s machines, she states the scene without mourning it—it’s only her reality. Only four tracks later, when things turn serious with the quiet boy who’s just moved in, Lindeman lists the worries that most young lovers encounter: Will it get boring? Will it get tough? Will it survive? Her perennially soft voice flirts with hardness here, a whiff of irritation coming through as he makes jokes when she wonders this stuff aloud. But still, she seems mollified by the relative stranger’s presence, her mind eased by his casual calm. In the last verse, two backup singers rise to meet Lindeman with country-soul harmonies, as if to say “everyone’s been here.” Assured again, Lindeman lets the song fade into the resolve of a final, firm piano chord.
What Am I Going to Do actually stems from two sessions in separate countries, a testament to Lindeman’s consistent vision for these songs and her material at large. She cut “Don’t Understand” and “Seemed True,” the album’s romantic centerpiece, in North Carolina, with a crew that included members of Megafaun and Hiss Golden Messenger. The rest was made back in Ontario with Daniel Romano, the songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer who helmed All of it was Mine, too. But these tracks all feel uniform and effortless, like first takes captured in real-time by a band that has lived the story just like Lindeman. For songs so intimate, and performances so inward, such careful singularity feels like a remarkable feat.
Lindeman first came into the public eye as an actress, a biographical note that may help explain why her songs have always felt so filled with detail, like a perfectly planned shot in a meticulous production. On All of it was Mine, for instance, she surveyed her domain with a botanist’s eye—“muddy white petunias, lobelia trails blue-eyed”—and immortalized her grandmother’s virtues with one line: “It was good to sit together, on her couch of seafoam green.” But Lindeman’s earlier work felt like a life seen from some art-house distance, where questions about motivations and meanings remained in the spaces between shots. While What Am I Going to Do isn’t so obvious as to be pedantic or cloying, it embraces the familiar and linear in a way that Lindeman’s work never has. This time, she asks the questions for us, like why she’s fallen in love, if it’s moving too fast, or if this might end with rings and legal documents. And then she commits, for the first time on tape, to the unknown and ends the album with at least one answer—an accepted marriage proposal. “Then we turned across the park’s expanse, open fields of last year’s grass,” her voice confides, tracing her private joy, “heading back with one question less than we started out with.” It is, for now, The Weather Station’s very subtle peak.