The Weather Station, ‘How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars’ — 5/5 stars

’Toban turntable

Image provided by Killbeat Music

Leader of the Weather Station, Tamara Lindeman, describes the period around her last album, 2021’s Ignorance, as “a time of intense creativity.” The album was one of the most critically adored releases of last year — it was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize and named as one of the best of the year by multiple publications, establishing Lindeman as one of the most vital singer-songwriters around. But how do you follow up an album that received such rapturous attention? Luckily for Lindeman, her intense creativity meant she still had songs leftover from the process of making Ignorance, allowing her to craft a “companion piece; the moon to its sun.”

How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars is indeed a more nocturnal, wistful record than the danceable, brooding Ignorance. The arrangements for these songs float, unmoored by time, carried largely by spare piano work adorned with pillowy ribbons of woodwinds and warm upright bass. This ethereal, minimal production establishes a very direct emotional connection with the listener, highlighting Lindeman’s voice.

Joni Mitchell has always been a point of comparison for Lindeman. Her voice has a similar pathos and range — able to sing in a hushed, intimate low tone just as much as a nimble, chiming falsetto — and she works in a similar folk style. This comparison would be an albatross around the neck of a lesser artist, but Lindeman is able to match up.

The buzz around Ignorance foregrounded the album’s lyrical occupation with the ongoing climate crisis — important, heavy stuff, but largely external. The songs here are similarly inspired by global upheaval and looming climate emergencies, but in a “more internal, thoughtful way,” emphasizing wistful reflection and personal connections, Lindeman says.

The second track “Endless Time” is a lament for our era of consumeristic splendour as well as for a defunct romance. It contains these little diaristic details of quiet moments with the lover, buying flowers and citrus in the middle of winter, waking up together bathed in sunlight. It embodies the thesis of the album, connecting her apocalyptic anxieties to more grounded, openly emotional songs.

As a companion piece and as a statement all its own, How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars is a triumph. It serves to enrich and expand upon the themes of Ignorance, but it doesn’t need that context to be enjoyed — it is a warm, rich and emotional record by a songwriter at the top of her game, connecting the political and personal with incredible ease.

The Weather Station’s new album, How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars, will be released March 4.