Ignorance, the fifth and latest album from the Weather Station, is luxuriant and enveloping. Chiefly the handiwork of Tamara Lindeman, the album melds together tried-and-true folk rock with oblique pop trappings and splinters of jazz to create songs that sound mystically classic and yet somehow as fresh as morning dew. It is is one of those works that feels remarkably complete in its realization, every layer precisely laid and yet the totality of it exuding effortlessness. Ignorance feels like it simply appeared, an act of creative prestidigitation.
In actuality, Ignorance came from intense introspection and an abundance of meticulous craft. Lindeman explains that the album is a reaction to the global climate crisis, inspired first by the ongoing activism of Greta Thunberg and as a reaction to and extension of the singer-songwriter’s own advocacy in her native Canada, where entreaties to government leadership resulted in progress that was, at best, a series of half measures. Linderman took to the platform where she had the most control: her own art. Those origins imply a certain dourness, or even an off-putting didacticism. That’s not Lindeman’s vibe, though. She values emotional tone over a litany of direct-action protest language. The sterling album opener “Robber” develops smooth metaphor (“No, the robber don’t hate you, he had permission/ Permission by words, permission of thanks/ Permission by laws, permission of banks”) as it builds expertly, until it’s like standing in the middle of a whirlwind of meaning and complicate melody.
Lindeman recognizably echoes admirable predecessors, such as Joni Mitchell or Laura Nyro, and equally invites comparison to some of her contemporaries. “Tried to Tell You” is like a livelier Beth Orton track, or maybe it sits in the netherworld between Haim and Waxhatchee. “Trust” is is the song she might be in an adopt to get Fiona Apple to adopt her as a long-lost sibling, and “Heart” tries out the gentle, earthbound disco found on Kacey Musgraves’s Golden Hour. Naming other female artists is too pat, though, unfairly boxing in Lindeman by gender just because the waft of her vocals creates a mental impediment to name-checking an act with a baritone at the main microphone. Ignorance is closest in spirit and sonic realization to the recent, exceptional albums by the War on Drugs. It has the same easygoing expertise and hazy wonderment that veil the intricacies within. Cuts such as “Parking Lot” and “Subdivisions” could leave any other band reeling from jealousy.
With the new album, Lindeman and her cohorts have created an album that feels properly and powerfully of its time, all without explicitly stating the thesis that gives it such immediacy. It makes its modernity through feel and inner bearing. To paraphrase a famous lyric from another artist who regularly measured the moment, you don’t need a weather station to know which way the wind blows. But, really, it doesn’t hurt to listen to what they have to say while jointly watching the outside roar its discontent.