Tried to Tell You
Over the course of her first four albums as The Weather Station, Toronto’s Tamara Lindeman has seen her project gradually blossom from a low-key indie-folk oddity into a robust roots-rock outfit powered by motorik rhythms and cinematic strings. But all that feels like mere baby steps compared to the great leap she takes with Ignorance, a record where Lindeman soundly promotes herself from singer-songwriter to art-rock auteur (with a dazzling, Bowie-worthy suit made of tiny mirrors to complete the transformation). It’s a move partly inspired by the bigger rooms she found herself playing in support of her 2017 self-titled release, but also by the creative stasis she was feeling after a decade spent in acoustic-strummer mode. “Whenever I picked up the guitar, I just felt like I was repeating myself,” Lindeman tells Apple Music. “I felt like I was making the same decisions and the same chord changes, and it just felt a little stale. I just really wanted to embrace some of this other music that I like.”
To that end, Lindeman built Ignorance around a dream-team band, pitting pop-schooled players like keyboardist John Spence (of Tegan and Sara’s live band) and drummer Kieran Adams (of indie electro act DIANA) against veterans of Toronto’s improv-jazz scene, like saxophonist Brodie West and flautist Ryan Driver. The results are as rhythmically vigorous as they are texturally scrambled, with Lindeman’s pristine Christine McVie-like melodies mediating between the two. Throughout the record, Lindeman distills the biggest, most urgent issues of the early 2020s—climate change, social injustice, unchecked capitalism—into intimate yet enigmatic vignettes that convey the heavy mental toll of living in a world that seems to be slowly caving in from all sides. “With a lot of the songs on the record, it could be a personal song or it could be an environmental song,” Lindeman explains. “But I don't think it matters if it's either, because it's all the same feelings.” Here, Lindeman provides us with a track-by-track survey of Ignorance’s treacherous psychic terrain.
“It's a very strange thing to be the recipient of something that's stolen, which is what it means to be a non-Indigenous Canadian. We're all trying to grapple with the question of: What does it mean to even be here at all? We're the beneficiaries of this long-ago genocide, essentially. I think Canadians in general and people all over the world are sort of waking up to our history—so to sing 'I never believed in the robber' sort of feels like how we all were taught not to see certain things. The first page in the history textbook is: ‘People lived here.’ And then the next 265 pages are all about the victors—the takers.”
“I was thinking about the weight of the climate crisis—like, how can you look out the window and love the world when you know that it is so threatened, and how that threat and that grief gets in the way of loving the world and being able to engage with it.”
Tried to Tell You
“Something I thought about a lot when I was making the album was how strange our society is—like, how we’ve built a society on a total lack of regard for biological life, when we are biological. Our value system is so odd—it's ahuman in this funny way. We're actually very soft, vulnerable creatures—we fall in love easily and our hearts are so big. And yet, so much of the way that we try to be is to turn away from everything that's soft and mysterious and instinctual about the way that we actually are. There's a distinct lack of humility in the way that we try to be, and it doesn't do us any good. So this just started out as a song about a friend who was turning away from someone that they were very clearly deeply in love with, but at the same time, I felt like I was writing about everyone, because everyone is turning away from things that we clearly deeply love.”
“What's beautiful about birds is that they're everywhere, and they show up in our big, shitty cities, and they're just this constant reminder of the nonhuman perspective—like when you really watch a bird, and you try to imagine how it's perceiving the world around it and why it's doing what it does. For me, there's such a beauty in encountering the nonhuman, but also a sadness, and those two ideas are connected in the song.”
“This song started with that chord change and that repetition of 'loss is loss is loss is loss.' So I stitched in a snapshot of a person—I don't know who—having this moment where they realize that the pain of trying to avoid the pain is not as bad as the pain itself. The deeper feeling beneath that avoidance is loss and sadness and grief, so when you can actually see it, and acknowledge that loss is loss and that it's real, you also acknowledge the importance of things. I took a quote from a friend of mine who was talking about her journey into climate activism, and she said, ‘At some point, you have to live as if the truth is true.’ I just loved that, so I quoted her in the song, and I think about that line a lot."
“With some of these songs, I'm almost terrified by some of the lyrics that I chose to include—I'm like, 'What? I said that?' To be frank, I wrote this song in response to the way that people communicate on social media. There's so much commitment: We commit to disagree, we commit to one-upping each other and misunderstanding each other on purpose, and it's not dissimilar to a broken relationship. Like, there's a genuine choice being made to perpetuate the conflict, and I feel like that's not really something we like to talk about.”
“This one's a slightly older song. I think I wrote it when I was still out on the road touring a lot. And it just seemed like the most perfect, deep metaphor: ‘I tried to wear the world like some kind of garment.’ I'm always really happy when I can hit a metaphor that has many layers to it, and many threads that I can pull out over the course of the song—like, the world is this garment that doesn't fit and doesn't keep you warm and you can't move in. And you just want to be naked, and you want to take it off and you want to connect, and yet you have to wear it. I think it speaks to a desire to understand the world and understand other people—like, 'Is everyone else comfortable in this garment, or is it just me that feels uncomfortable?'”
“This song was written in a really short time, and that doesn't usually happen to me, because I usually am this very neurotic writer and I usually edit a lot and overthink. It's a very heavy song. And it's about that thing that's so hard to wrap your head around when you're an empathetic person: You want to understand why some people actively choose conflict, why they choose to destroy. I wasn't actually thinking about a personal relationship when I wrote this song; I was thinking about the world and various things that were happening at the time. I think the song is centered in understanding the softness that it takes to stand up for what matters, even when it's not cool.”
“Along with 'Robber,' this was one of my favorite recording moments. It had a pretty loose shape, and there's this weird thing that I was obsessed with where the one chord is played through the whole song, and everything is constantly tying back to this base. I just loved what the band did and how they took it in so many different directions. This song really freaked me out [lyrically]. I was not comfortable with it. But I was talked into keeping it, and all for the better, because obviously, I do believe that the sentiments shared on the song—though they are so, so fucking soft!—are the best things that you can share.”
“This was one of the first songs written before the record took shape in my mind and before it structurally came together. I think we recorded it in, like, an hour, and everyone's performance was just perfect. I like these big, soft, emotional songs, and from a craft perspective, I think it's one of my better songs. I've never really written a chorus like that. I don't even feel like it's my song. I don't feel like I wrote it or sang it, but it just feels like falling deeper and deeper into some very soft place—which is, I think, the right way to end the record.”