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The Weather Station (Spunk/Caroline)

Tamara Lindeman’s fourth album is a folk-rock album that isn’t really either folk or rock as we know them today. Which is all just fine.

The Canadian’s melodies and aspects of her singing are definitely drawn from folk, particularly English folk’s controlled manner that takes a different route to the more wandering nature of American forms. There’s history and familiarity behind In An Hour for example, though it doesn’t feel borrowed at all, so lightly does it land.

Her frequently used deeper register has a storyteller’s hold on you, sober and sombre; her forays higher like bursts of light to sharpen attention, such as the briskly pop-leaning Kept It All To Myself.

Throughout the record Lindeman doesn’t appear to be doing much at any point, showiness not being her style, but she controls everything, right down to the listener. Put it this way, your mind never wanders and there are times – such as You And I (On The Other Side Of The World) - when you feel (trans)fixed in place and tuned only to absorption.

Unlike The Weather Station’s earliest recordings, the sound of this album is firmly electric and firm-footed, with strings controlling their place rather than merely been given space to fill (I Don’t Know What To Say especially), and the acoustic elements anything but slight set against electric lines that recall Richard Thompson at times – particularly in Thirty.

What’s more you could say it’s heavy too, though not in weight of the chords or volume but in the emphasis behind them. And that’s the key.

While flute is a regular visitor and keyboards take up a secondary but significant role, and electric guitar is the prominent contributor and drums come through with stark clarity, the album’s “heaviness” is not in any of them really.

Instead it comes through in the depth of tone, lyrically, emotionally and vocally, none of which are overplayed but all of which resonate. Relationships here are complex, between friends, parents, families, strangers, and no one “wins” or “loses”, but no one walks away unmoved.

The flush of appeal and danger in the first verses of Thirty for example, as physical contact elicits a response, carry implications explored subtly in the later verses where decisions not to pursue those promises are explained.

In The Most Dangerous Thing About You, which feels like an emotional cross between A Case Of You and Coyote, the recognition of a familiar deeply buried bruise beneath banalities of conversation (“the most dangerous thing about you is your pain/I know for me it is the same”) spins out to a moment that almost crushes (“And all the sadness you can’t explain poured from you like a summer rain/Hand in hand with your child in the morning”).

It’s a powerful but still underplayed ending to the album, in keeping with The Weather Station’s approach from the beginning.

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