When we’re talking Canadian singer-songwriters, it’s hard not to think about all the recent news of Joni Mitchell. Her loss, like everyone’s, is inevitable, but there’s something quite difficult about getting to grips with the absence of the talent who has affected and influenced so many. That fear is eased somewhat by her fellow countrywoman Tamara Lindeman. If Joni goes, The Weather Station seems poised to take her place.
There are at least three moments on Loyalty where Lindeman makes an indelible mark. The first is lead single and album opener Way It Is, Way It Could Be, whose guitar magically gallops along Lindeman’s road trip to produce one of the best songs of the year. Lindeman’s first deconstruction of the concept of loyalty starts here, living out a dream on the road but still never quite touching the things the relationship needs. As far as openings go, there hasn’t been a better one this year.
The second and third standout moments come quite closely together towards the end of the record. Recent single Tapes navigates the crevices of a broken arrangement, as Lindeman’s low howls raise every single hair on your body to the point that composure remains difficult. It’s a fragile meditation, leading seamlessly to I Could Only Stand By, where that deep and mournful tone sings “I stood beside you, thin as a kite/ Wincing in the wind’s cruel bite” to the backing of guitar and woodwind. It’s a moment that’s both fresh and vintage, and requires hushed reverence for long moments after.
The rest of the album is seasoned with similar missives – At Full Height once again looks at the price of tacit faithfulness (“I’ve been free, but I’ve known not freedom”), and the title track again explores what that staunch and solemn figure on the sleeve might be thinking. It’s all held together with Lindeman’s rich, earnest voice and instrumentation that actually defines the meaning of loyalty, supporting its writer and producer perfectly. Needless to say, The Weather Station’s sky is just one shade of Blue away from continuing Joni’s legacy in a way none of us could have anticipated.
Loyalty by The Weather Station can be ordered here.