I wanted to do something a little different with today’s blog, so I’m going to talk about one of my favourite albums! In relation to me though, of course. Cause it’s my artist blog and I do what I want. xo Rachel
Artist/Album: The Weather Station – All of It Was Mine
I first saw The Weather Station play when they opened for Timber Timbre at The Company House in Halifax. It was Spring 2009, I was a baby musician, and my cool older cousin was taking me to see a show! Sweet. At the time I wasn’t familiar with either act (we missed the other two openers), but sometimes those can be the most magical shows. I was prepared to be enthralled.
Tamara Lindeman's (aka The Weather Station) vocals were haunting and unusual. My ear was still getting used to hearing less poppy chord progressions and melodies, but there was enough there for me to want to hear more. I'm usually late to the party/late bloomer/etc and independent Canadian music was no exception. When I think back on this, it feels like I was standing in front of a door with my hand on the knob, just slightly unsure if I should push it open or not, but knowing that eventually I’d turn my wrist enough that it would click open and new sounds would flood over me. I've developed a lot as a listener since then, but at the time...it changed me, man!
[Yes, Timber Timbre was also good and haunting and if I recall correctly, both acts backed each other up. He made a whole lot of whistlin’ type train noises, so I really got in on the ground floor with that one.]
I made sure to buy TWS’s album, The Line after the show. I gave Lindeman my money with shaky hands and tried to not to scream, ‘YOU’RE SO COOL!’ out loud. Can I be honest with you? If nothing else, I’m a really good fan girl. And let’s be real, buying merch directly from an artist can be nerve-wracking. When I don’t sell a lot of stuff at a show I try and tell myself it’s because of this. I know it’s probably not, but it makes me feel better. Hashtag fragileartistego. Anyway.
I took my new CD back to my cousin’s place to play the next morning. I was initially disappointed. Lindeman had been sick at the show and her vocals sounded super different on the recordings. I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but I gave it a chance. I’m glad I did, because that album grew on me like a wild garden. Poetry has always been a huge influence on my person/practice and The Line’s lyrics were exactly that. I even wrote down the lines that gave me goosebumps at the time, like these:
“I’d just like to see my Christmas Rose / my birthday snows / my heart on its feet, walking strange down the street/ his heart on his feet, walking strange down the street.” –Can’t Know (The Line)
This album builds a landscape that explores grief in such an affecting, raw way. When TWS’s next album, All of It Was Mine, got a release date I was super stoked, but part of me didn’t know how it could top The Line. Given that that album came out of specific life experiences that propelled Lindeman to write about a profound loss, I didn’t really know what to expect from a new full length. Was I still going to listen to it? Absolutely.
I remember getting All of it Was Mine as an early birthday gift in 2011. I immediately turned the cover over to pour over the lyrics. Maybe I’m just not very critical of the music I like, but it only took about two lines before I was sold. I not-so-tenderly put the record on and proceeded to lose my shit over a folk album. I told you I was good at fan-girling.
Really though, there are reasons I love this album so much. The instrumentation is intricate and sparsely lush, finger-picking galore, leaving ample space for her vocals and lyrics to land square on your shoulders and sink into your skin. Lyrically, the album takes familiar surroundings and uses their minutiae to express a sort of wild magic. Bugs, cats, moths, floors, flowers, cheap cotton, and a jar of honey are all vehicles for metaphor on All of it Was Mine. I love that I can have a visceral reaction to something in my kitchen:
“Just cause you came so willing I never made you, I didn’t call for you, so sure I was needless but all the strange things of the dirt are obstinately drawn to sweetness bite through plastic through the masonry. You came uninvited with a jar of your parent’s honey.” -'Came so Easy'
What comes out of this album for me is longing, coming of age, and exploring the meaning of love, sexuality, and womanhood. There’s a beautifully melancholic moment in 'Running Around Asking', where Lindeman (or the speaker, at least) describes sitting on her grandmother’s seafoam green couch, unable to get past the weather, and in my opinion, acknowledging the lack of communication that can be ever present in familial relationships between women. The secrets held through generations, the fumbling through wondering why no one will tell you exactly how it goes, but to still find solace in sharing space. Oof. Yes, all of that, please.
Aside from verbose imagery, a thread of grief still connects All of it Was Mine to The Line, but it’s more tempered. These are the songs you write when you have some perspective, but still haven’t figured it all out. I love, love, love it.
I’m sure I could find something to criticize on this album, but it’s 5 years old now and I still get so much joy from listening to it. This artist came into my life at a time when I was just starting to perform/develop my own folky style and they set the bar nice and high. I don't ever want to mindlessly copy another artist, or be uncritical of what I consume and how it's all part of a larger, flawed scene, but I think it's really important to acknowledge what inspires us even if we end up rejecting parts (or all) of it down the road.
When I saw The Weather Station open for Bahamas last year and heard songs from All of it Was Mine live for the first time, I felt something come full circle. I got her to sign my CD copy of the album and remarked that I’d seen her play in Halifax a few years back. She said something along the lines of,
“I hate to break it to you, but that was seven years ago.”
I walked to my car, put the album on and let that statement sink in. I took the long way home.
P.s. If you missed last week's post you can read it here: http://www.rachelelizabethmusic.com/new-blog/2016/7/28/writing-updates-girls-rock-camp-an-etsy-shop