In the 1970s, Tamara Lindeman’s parents moved from Toronto to a part of Ottawa so remote that “snowploughs had only started running there 10 years earlier”, says the Canadian songwriter. A national reforestation initiative prompted them to plant thousands of trees on their 25 acres. By the late 80s, Lindeman would sing in the young forest, cherishing the feeling of safety it gave her. Now the woodland is the setting for the music videos from Ignorance, Lindeman’s fifth album as folk-rock outfit the Weather Station – hailed by many critics as an early album of the year. “I feel like all the pieces of my life came together in this beautiful way,” she says, calling from Toronto.
There is nothing surprising about finding a folkie in the woods. But a renewed obsession with the climate crisis prompted this songwriter, who kept company with contemporary Americana greats such as Steve Gunn and William Tyler, to make a more direct, pop-facing record12 years after her debut – swapping Dylan’s influence for the lucid and surrealist British art-rock of late 80s Kate Bush, Avalon-era Roxy Music, Christine McVie and post-charts Talk Talk. “When I connected that what I was writing had to do with climate grief, I felt it was imperative to express that emotion in a very blunt, raw way,” says Lindeman. “I love avant-garde music. But there is something to be said for a song that cuts straight across, that there’s no barriers to accessing.”
Lindeman has spent lockdown focusing on small pleasures: her neighbour’s tulips, taking piano lessons and “learning to express myself better and to say what I mean the first time”. She is thoughtful and cautious in conversation. Ignorance is poetic and refined: “I never believed in the robber / I figured everything he took was gone,” she sings on Robber, a song about the climate being so devalued that its destroyers escape scot-free.
Lindeman was raised to value nature and recognise animal tracks in the snow. But as a kid she would struggle to sleep at night, terrified and angry at what was then known as global warming: “I remember my mother trying to comfort me, but me being like, you don’t have the answers.” She grew to avoid the problem, especially once she started touring as a musician of growing renown. “It brings up really heavy feelings of sadness and anxiety, and shame and guilt: I was one of the bad guys.”