Music review: The Weather Station's Tamara Lindeman signals rise of strong, independent female singers

Tamara Lindeman of The Weather Station signals the rise of the age of strong, independent female singers. -- PHOTO: DOMINOO
Tamara Lindeman of The Weather Station signals the rise of the age of strong, independent female singers. -- PHOTO: DOMINOO

As Joni Mitchell fans await updates on their icon who was found unconscious in her Los Angeles home in late March, here's someone they may want to check out.

Meet Tamara Lindeman, the singer-songwriter of the acclaimed Toronto band The Weather Station. She possesses a rare quality, the richly literate patience of Mitchell: Close your eyes, and you marvel at her cadence, the way words and music get wrapped up in a dance of hopes, loves and regrets.

The band's third album, Loyalty, is lauded as their best yet.

Lindeman, who also enjoys a career as an actress on film and television, has woven an intriguing treatise to life's multifarious gifts and disappointments. It's exquisite and austere, a gem shining brightly only when light hits it from a particular angle.

Much talk has been made of the revival of the 1970s male singer-songwriter, with stunning recent records by the likes of Tobias Jesso Jr, Matthew E. White and Father John Misty.

My belief is that Lindeman may be the latest in what shapes up to be a far more interesting age of strong, independent females. Cue equally luminescent records by Jessica Pratt and Natalie Pratt: These negotiate the tricky terrain of the heart with wisdom and patience and reward those who are willing to immerse themselves.

The music echoes the meandering pace and the unexpected detour. Life doesn't unfurl in a straight line and Lindeman captures it perfectly.

In I Mined, a song riding on mellifluous guitar and decorous piano, she sings in an alto which segues into a Mitchell-esque soprano: "It started small - a simple thought/Then there was something wrong/And if it's caught I could set it right/Or at least, I could try."

In a simple quartrain, she nails the infinite challenges that rear when you think everything is going hunky-dory. By eschewing drama for restraint, her songs underlie the emotions which can well up and open a valve.

Like Sisters is a clear-eyed examination of friendships and their limits and strengths.

"Sometimes you give, you're giving all you have," she opines over gently buffed finger-picking and barely there percussion, before delivering the hard truth: "And sometimes you're the taker."

In Tapes, an elegy dedicated to a loved one who has passed, she even makes the decision to dispense with words in the last third of the song.

"I'm older now that you ever were, or ever would become," she delivers the final line over a sea of shimmering riffs, before ending in a sustained, haunting wordlessness, as if semantics itself is too much to bear.

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