The Weather Station finds confidence in experience
Standout Toronto singer/songwriter Tamara Lindeman hits her stride in her thirties
THE WEATHER STATION at the Great Hall (1087 Queen West), Friday (November 24), doors 8 pm. $17.50. soundscapesmusic.com, rotate.com, ticketfly.com.
Turning 30 is a major milestone in anyone’s life, and that’s especially true in the music business – an industry that exalts youth and is often incompatible with grown-up pursuits like home ownership and having kids. (Ever tried to put a kid through college using your Spotify royalties?)
This landmark birthday has been of particular interest to songwriter Tamara Lindeman of Toronto folk project the Weather Station. Stunning recent single Thirty tackles the theme of aging via a cascade of rapid-fire lyrics about her friends having children and the cultural expectations around marriage.
The song, along with the rest of the Weather Station’s new self-titled fourth LP (out now on Outside Music), was written in a period during which Lindeman hit the big 3-0 and unexpectedly found her music career hitting its stride.
Around the same time, Taylor Swift released 1989 and Adele dropped 25 – two smash LPs that chronicle 20-something life. Sipping tea at Northern Belle on Dundas West, Lindeman laughs. “Wouldn’t it be so funny if I had a record called 32?”
Contrary to her ideas about turning 30, Lindeman found herself in an artistic upswing and feeling more fulfilled than ever.
“As a woman trying to be in music, it’s always felt like there is an expiry date,” she reflects. “Especially with the difficulty if you have a kid [which Lindeman doesn’t] – you can’t really sleep on floors and play in bars with no green rooms. You have to attain a certain level of success to even think about it. But then what’s your other option?”
Compared to the Weather Station’s hushed past releases, the new record is harder hitting. Lindeman refers to it as her “rock and roll record.” There’s still a distinctive strain of Joni Mitchell in her nimble bird-song vocals, but cuts like Kept It All To Myself and Complicit display bouncy rhythms and Neil Young-style guitar grit.
The ballads are quiet but no less intense, with vivid metaphors and flute-flecked arrangements borne of an obsessive dedication to songcraft.
Lindeman self-produced the 11 songs, including the richly melodic strings, and the results reflect a confidence acquired through experience.
“In my early 20s I was way too serious. I thought too much,” she explains, adding that she’s now able to conquer self-doubt and take the reins. “You can really do a lot more when all of that energy you spent on caring what people thought of you is freed up.”
While fresh-faced teens and 20-somethings will likely always dominate the pop charts, Lindeman points to several local songwriters who have set an example of maturing gracefully. She names Jennifer Castle, Ryan Driver and Sandro Perri as particularly inspiring, in addition to her friends and collaborators from the Constantines.
“I was a huge fan in my early 20s, like everyone else,” she says. “They were so powerful and intense and they were all young. Now they’re pushing 40. Seeing them play since they reunited is almost more powerful than seeing them play when they were young. It feels more hard-won.”
Now 33, Lindeman has been releasing music as the Weather Station for close to a decade, letting her audience grow alongside her and watch her evolution.
At the rate she’s going, it’s unlikely it will end any time soon.
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