July 16-17 - Vancouver Folk Festival
July 22-24 - Calgary Folk Festival
Tickets are almost always available online.
Sometimes – I’m not quite sure how I got here.
After years, ten years really, of recording music in walk in closets and basements, I found myself in a 19th century drawing room outside of Paris, at a beautiful studio, with a week to make a record – my record. With two people I respected and admired, there from generosity and a desire to make it with me. We drank wine – we walked by the Seine – Afie Jurvanen and I played whatever we wanted and Robbie Lackritz recorded it on a beautiful board – there was a piano by the window. We got excited, we argued, we laughed.
The result was an album I love – still – after all this time. It’s called Loyalty – it comes out today.
When you sing into a great microphone, headphones on, your voice billows out of you. You feel – enormous. Your own voice so loud that you start to believe, if only for the moment, that maybe you will be heard, in the things that you are choosing to say. I sang all the time as a kid. I grew up in the country and it was easy to be alone – to walk through the forest singing at the top of my lungs – whatever melody came to mind. It was my way of working through things.
When you’re a young women, people look at you – shout to you on the street, implore you to smile – but they don’t necessarily listen to you. Or listening is selective – subtly discounting all that doesn’t fit the fantasy. I’ve been an obedient person in my life – a nice person – a quiet person – and I’ve also consistently stayed silent when there were things to say, in service generally of someone else’s needs or desires.
I wanted to make music because I wanted to talk to people, and because music was the way people talked to me – in headphones, walking around the city. I don’t know why I was always so shy – but as a young person, I so rarely saw evidence that my experience of reality had any relation to anyone else’s. It was in music that I heard this – this evidence. When I started recording music in 2005 – through trial and error, hitting the desk to make a percussive sound, fumbling with instruments I didn’t know how to play – I was heavily influenced by the sound collage of The Books. I think I loved it so much because they took ordinary sounds – a bouncing ball, a passing car, a child’s voice in a distant park – and recontextualized them as meaningful, worth listening to over and over again, part of a larger whole. I attempted to do the same thing, talking at first through sound, through shadings of timbre and tone that felt deeply meaningful and expressive to me, and then as I grew in confidence, through words themselves.
People often ask young artists ‘what is your story’ – and what they are looking for is a one liner – something so shocking, so exciting or compelling that it will sell newspapers (or blogs, as the case may be). Strange things have happened to me – sad things – wonderful things – but in writing I have always been drawn to the mundane – to the bouncing ball – to the thought or observation or image that would otherwise go unnoticed. There is meaning in this – I always want to say – meaning in everything – and that in and of itself is a hedge against disappointment and obscurity.
I started playing music as a way to talk to people – and because I loved it too, with a passion that still makes me dizzy sometimes – and what is so strange to me is that I have succeeded, at times, in small ways. When my last record came out – people listened to it. And I don’t mean they put it on in their houses or on their turntables – I mean they listened, they heard the songs, and they found meaning – and wrote to tell me so, or wrote about it in insightful, thoughtful ways. It was perhaps the first time I’ve felt, in such a wide way – understood. It’s a rarity – a luxury.
I started playing music in 2005 – in the wake of someone I loved passing away, suddenly, inexplicably. It was an experience that shook me from complacency – I had to make music – I had to do something – because I had nowhere else to put my feelings. I was 19. Music was for me the great romance that superseded that lost one.
Before that, I worked in acting – a job I fell into as a shy teenager. I wanted to not go to school – my parents thought it would be a good way for me to learn social skills. It’s a line of work that, barring great success, is perhaps the acme of personal disappearance – intense obedience. I was good at it – I had a knack – and I worked hard and I learned my lines – but I never mistook it for something that had anything to do with me. You show up – you surrender your likeness and you disappear into the part. That’s what they pay you to do. I got good at that – disappearing.
When you make an album, you (or I, at least) often experience a sort of hangover of vulnerability. You wonder if you revealed too much. With this one – I had that – but through it was a kind of pride that wasn’t there before. This album touches on things I regret, moments where I wish I had done things differently – said something I didn’t say. I generally write songs when there’s something I can’t get to the bottom of. There’s this song – this one song called ‘Shy Women’ – it’s about a little moment – a friend and I meet, and she doesn’t feel that she can reveal her own darkness to me – so we talk about nothing. It stuck with me. In the end I wrote that it would be a ‘luxury to be not so ashamed’. I meant that – I didn’t realise I did till the record was done and I was home. But I meant that. It is a luxury, though. To allow yourself to not disappear. To allow someone else that as well.
I’m proud of this record – it talks about anxiety – idealism – travel – It’s an album too about friendship, strongly so – and work – and the struggles we share, my friends and I.
Also, I hope, it is beautiful. I meant it to be. I hoped it would be. Beauty is something that not everyone goes for these days. But, well – I hope it is beautiful, if nothing else.
It’s rare you find your people – it’s even more rare that they find you.
I am beyond pleased to announce The Weather Station will be releasing records across the US and Europe with the wonderful Paradise of Bachelors.
This label has put out unbelievably crucial records by Steve Gunn, Hiss Golden Messenger, Nathan Bowles, the great re-issues of Mike Cooper, Lavender Country, and many more, and they are true gentlemen, artists, and thinkers to boot. I couldn’t think of a better home for my music out there in the broader world.
This means you’ll be able to get the next record in Europe, or Australia, or the US of A.
Proud to be a Bachelor.
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.
There is much to announce.
Firstly, a new record has been completed. A full length. More exciting and lovely details to come.
Secondly, another, secret release will find it’s way to you at some point in August.
Thirdly, a new batch of duets is nearly completed.
Fourthly, it’s summer.
Let’s keep it all a little mysterious for now…
I am proud to announce that I’ll be heard on the soundtrack for the upcoming Ben Stiller film, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty.
Afie Jurvanen of Bahamas and I recorded this little cover of ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’ in a dream studio near Paris, France.
The song can be heard at the halfway mark in the video below. It was also mentioned in USA Today.