The Weather Station – “Way It Is, Way It Could Be” (Stereogum Premiere)

The Weather Station is the project of Toronto’s Tamara Lindeman, a musician I was first exposed to when she collaborated with Will Stratton (who is my dear, brave friend as well as a talented musician). She compelled me immediately. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way considering Lindeman just signed with Paradise Of Bachelors, the storied, folklore-focused label that plucked Hiss Golden Messenger, Steve Gunn, and Lavender Country from relative obscurity and gave them a national stage.

Now, they’ve invested in the Weather Station, and a few listens of her third full-length record Loyalty indicate that their impeccable taste is intact. Recorded just outside Paris at La Frette Studios last winter, Loyalty is imbued with the crisp intimacy of the coldest season, the allure of the city of lights. Lindeman’s voice floats by in the higher registers of head voice, never breathy but, instead, misty and amorphous.

On the record she plays guitar, banjo, keys, and vibraphone, but like most artists who take the folk music tack with any success, it’s Lindeman’s songwriting that catches your attention and holds it. She’s clever without any smugness, rendering every day events into existential pictures of uncertainty, poking and prodding at subconscious desires without ever fully exposing them.

Take album opener “Way It Is, Way It Could Be,” for example. Lilting along the twin lines of quickly picked acoustic guitar and a linear, electric guitar backbone, it’s one of the more upbeat tracks on the record. Ostensibly a journey through winter, the song investigates the ambiguity that lives with us as long as we’re here on earth: “The way it is and the way it could be both are.” In Lindeman’s capable hands, this is neither a blessing or a curse. It’s the mark of a good songwriter to force us to keep two futures in mind at once, never letting on if either of them exist at all. Listen below.

Loyalty is out 5/12 via Paradise of Bachelors.