Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.
There are many singers with skilled voices, but for me what makes for a masterful singer isn't the quality of the voice, but rather the ability to take lyrics and connect emotions with inflection. That's what struck me when I heard Tamara Lindeman sing on this, her self-titled and fourth album as The Weather Station. She's lived these words. They are her being. They are her stories.
I thought of Joni Mitchell hearing the albums second cut "Thirty," not because of the Canadian connection (Tamara is Toronto-based), but for the fluidity and flow of words that are complicated but sound effortless. Listen as she sings:
"We walked in the park / under the shade / I avoided your eyes / I was ashamed of my own mind / No SSRI's / My day as dark as your night."
And then the moment comes when her electric guitar crashes in, giving the listener time to pause and put together what just happened in this tale, where joy is on the cusp of despair.
I've been a fan of The Weather Station for a while now and always quite enjoyed her albums, but this one is on another level. These songs sit in a place between thought and expression, where the music flows confidently from heart to tongue. She calls this her "rock and roll album" and while you may think that means volume, I think what it means is that The Weather Station has a sense of urgency. It's filled with feminist politics, kindred spirits, conversations and heartbreak, all well played as inspired gems.