LABEL: FAT POSSUM
ALBUM IN A SENTENCE: The Weather Station takes Laurel Canyon to an 80s disco and cuts deep about grief and anger at the climate crisis.
Of the things that I know about hope, I know this most surely, that hope is a battle. Hope is not pulled out of a hat and it does not sprout like weeds, it must be fought for and defended. On her new album, Tamara Lindeman, the driving force behind The Weather Station, fights for hope in the face of climate crisis on the dancefloor. Ignorance is an album of disco urgency and fierce light.
Lindeman’s lyrics capture a sense of collapse that reflect a wider truth about the environmental disasters that we all face. In one light, Ignorance could be a break up album, reflecting that its wider themes are captured within stories of relationships that are failing. ‘Separated’ deals with this most clearly with lines like ‘you’ve committed to this wall we sleep against.’ Ignorance is a chronicling of the aftermath emotions, of what is felt in the still after the wildfire. Often, that results in misplaced guilt, like in opening track ‘Robber’ that captures the dislocation of simultaneously being stolen from and lied to. But there is always hope as things that are separated come back together.
At first, that sense of things coming back together is fragmentary and much of the album’s strength is found in its juxtapositions. Ignorance is a pastoral album on a protest march, romantic but aware of fear lurking, celebratory and grief-filled for nature. These juxtapositions work into the music as well. Previous Weather Station albums have all been much more rooted in acoustic folk music. Lindeman never compromises and this is still a folk influenced album, particularly in her vocal style. However, the rhythm section, lead by Kieran Adams on drums and Ben Whiteley on bass, are compelling and insistent. I woke up at 4am one morning recently with the rhythm backing to ‘Robber’ looping repeatedly. Ignorance takes root deep inside your head.
If much of the hope on Ignorance is as fragmentary as the mirror shard suit Tamara Lindeman performs in, it is still real. The Weather Station biography quotes Virginia Woolf saying, “the future is dark, which is the best thing a future can be, I think.” The reason that the album is called Ignorance, is because although the future of our global climate looks bleak, it cannot be fully seen and we do not know what will happen. Things can change and that is hopeful. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s stages of grief model suggests that people eventually move on from denial, and maybe that will prove true for climate change also.
That’s the hope that we have to fight for. The message is urgent. The grief is real. The ocean’s currents are slowing down, the storms are gathering and greed has not yet been fully fed. But things can still change. If Trump could have articulated or responded to the grief and fear of Covid, he would have won; but he represents a politics that can only complain about people getting better treatment than they deserve, incapable of speaking to injustice or suffering. Global pandemics and climate crises are too big for that kind of politics. They require leadership and movements that look to resist evil happening to good, or at the very least ordinary, citizens. If nothing else, there is the hope that we may find our common humanity in our common tragedies. Ignorance by The Weather Station holds down the rhythm and fires our hopes as we wait and see.