Successive albums rarely can be attributed to distinct creative writing cycles, and yet we somehow believe an album represents some sort of period. But what if in the creation process and the eventual afterlife of one record songs keep on showing up that are worth fighting for and yet not fit for that specific recording process? 

“I wrote all the songs in one winter. I finished them all, but that was when they were all terminated. So to me I hear the songs referencing each other, saying the same things. Taken together, the two records lyrically just make a lot of sense.”

Tamara Lindeman, the face and chief creative mind behind Toronto folk act The Weather Station has decided to create a “companion album”, what she calls it, to last year’s Ignorance. Not exactly a follow-up, but rather “another piece of the puzzle” which took shape on the 2021 record, How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars shares a lot of sentiments of its “predecessor” and yet heads for whole new kind vision: more pure, more autonomous and even more delicate.  

Another Version Of The Same Story

Photo by Brendan Ko

“I had a vision for ‚Ignorance‘ and it was pretty clear in my mind before writing the songs”, Lindeman shares early on in our interview call. “So when I started writing towards that vision, there were songs showing up that just didn’t really fit that vision, that were just too gentle and sweet”. “In the end”, she remembers, “there were actually around twenty of them. So it just seemed sad to just throw them all away.”

“I think the two records share a lot of emotion. Both are concerned with being misled, climate feelings, feeling dislocated from the world. This record has a bit more room for love and connection, compared to the last one.”

While Ignorance was sparkling with quivering vibrancy, although delicate and poised in its sentimental orbit, How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars showcases quite a solemn and even more introspective side of the fragile universe last year’s record offered. Recorded as live takes in the course of several days, this record leaves out a rhythm section altogether and via the piano-filled universe reaches a sense of tranquility, full of melodious bloom and serene wonder. “When songs are never recorded, they never see the light of day”, Lindeman says to me. And as evident as that sounds, there is some remarkable truth in that sentence. You have to fight for your songs, if not, they will get lost in the noise of time for good.

Different Ways Of Seeing

Perception meanwhile is key for understanding the subtle art of How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars, as Lindeman is keen to emphasise: 

“Almost every single song on this record is about seeing. I keep describing seeing, a lot of it seems to be about perception, about questioning perception.”

In that, this record takes the Ignorance compassion for fragility and “feeling dislocated” a step further, letting the lyrical self step behind its emotions and look at them from a more distanced position to understand it all a bit better.

“The record feels pretty open and sensitive. I tried to give it an answer by putting the Loving You song last. I tried to give it a gentle closing note. I don’t think that’s quite complete though.”

“Dawn Or Dusk”

Lindeman herself has referred to the image of a “companion” aspect of How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars, coining the notion of a “moon” versus the “sun” of the Ignorance record. That this album comes off as more nocturnal in a way, actually makes sense. “It’s a very liminal album and I just think of it as a a bit dreamy”, Lindeman states.

“I definitely think that “Ignorance” and this record are records that sneak to the ending of something. They are records of this huge shift that’s underway in our world and in our society. That’s the place they come from. I feel that this record has a lot of uncertainty in it. It’s interesting that Covid and the climate crisis really echo each other.”

Yet, the sense of doom seems only linger in the distance of the whole affair. In her imagination, the songs on this one appear as something “very watery, but also kind of clouds”, if put to colour, the musician says. “Clouds on water, kind of reflective. Like a lake”. Isn’t that a peaceful notion much needed these days?

The Weather Station‘s How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars is out now via Fat Possum Records.