Breathy without fluster, Tamara Lindeman’s voice is marked by a confident lack of hostility as she courageously exposes her innermost vulnerabilities and concerns with a hushed dignity. Now five albums deep into her career under the name The Weather Station, a veneer of relative normality and uniformity of style betrays the complexities of the arrangements and the control she has at her disposal.
A resolute and constantly changing approach to making music also indicates a considerable sense of artistic progression, and so the acoustic musings that marked her 2015 release Loyalty have been recalibrated and her palette expanded to incorporate shuffling immersive disco and navel gazing lounge bar atmospherics.
Her ability to use percussive space and unwavering timbre to flesh out these pieces gives the album a luminous elegance. Built around a luscious two chord orchestral core, recent single Robber kicks the record off with evocations of Portishead’s Beth Gibbons and Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, as granite smooth biographical honesty and smoky torch song anguish fuse themselves onto a network of densely clustered percussive elements from collaborators Philippe Melanson and Kieran Adams. There are further meaningful flourishes on the skittish exemplary ballad Atlantic, as tingling fragments of piano and drum bear delicious fruit. Contemplating existence, laid back in the golden hour warm breeze of “some stranger’s field,” Lindeman summons the amorous carnival jazz of Natalie Merchant’s Tigerlily.
That distinct vein of barbwire melody and passive confessional reappears on tracks like Parking Lot, Separated and Tried To Tell You, as fluid soft rock grooves punctuate the lyrical and physical darkness. Trust, which follows those romantic numbers, features Lindeman surrendering to her darker impulses, its haunting naked lyric pleading for emotional amnesty in the face of defeat. What could seem sensational or pessimistic in lesser hands instead reveals the indestructible single-mindedness of her creative vision. These songs accumulate significance through the time and concentration given to them, their slow drag catching you in their shifting trajectory.
Protected by layers of sophisticated instrumentation, what intrigues is the compassionate humanity locked in amber, the tacit impression being one of cautious friskiness and simple gratifications. Occasionally the sparkly pop stylings and dependably profound poetic musings give the record an air of interchangeability, but this minor parlour trick merely invites an opportunity to explore the contents further at a pace comfortable to the listener. Devoid of any jagged distinguishing features that may distract or impose a singular interpretation, the record turns out to be a source of rumour and mystery in which to succumb to subconsciously immaculate devastations.