She is Tamara Linderman, a Toronto-based singer-songwriter who works under the name the Weather Station. Her third album, due out May 12, is Loyalty, an eloquent and intimate folk-music expression. On an album recorded in rural France, the silhouettes of Janis Ian, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot linger in the periphery. In advance of her concert in Toronto on May 14, Ms. Linderman spoke to us about the making of the record.
You recorded Loyalty with help from Afie Jurvanen (a.k.a. Bahamas) and Feist’s producer Robbie Lackritz. What role did they play?
The record was essentially Afie’s idea. He put it together, and Robbie got involved right away, too. Afie’s been a supporter of mine for a while now. He’s kind of like a big-brother figure to me – always pushing me to be more confident, more assertive. There are bits where I played lead and bits where he does. Sometimes, I was pushing for things to be more pop, and he was advocating subtlety. We went back and forth. I can tell what he played and what I played, but I don’t think anyone else can.
You made the album at La Frette, where a few other Canadian indie bands and artists have recorded. What’s the deal there?
It’s housed in a 19th-century mansion, in the small town of La Frette-sur-Seine, just outside of Paris. You show up, and all you see is a big wall, covered in ivy. And then you punch in the code and the huge iron gates open, slowly, and you drive into a yard. There’re some broken-down cars, some patio furniture gone to moss and decay. There are ancient gnarled trees, flowers blooming in February – crocuses, daffodils, irises. It’s like a secret garden.
What about inside?
You walk in the front door and there’s a hallway full of discarded and forgotten tape machines. In the basement there are corridors filled with old tape and a machine room housing the old plate reverbs – literally massive plates hung in wood. We recorded mostly in the drawing room, an elegant space with 20-foot ceilings and massive French doors opening out to the garden. The room was built for chamber performances.
Sounds eccentric. Any characters hanging around?
Down in the kitchen, a woman named Elisabeth came by in the afternoons to cook. She wore heels every day, smart outfits, her hair up, smoking as she walked in, carrying baguettes and wine. You’d see her listening from behind the door. A couple of times, Afie and I played her the songs, just on piano. She was our best audience; we trusted her. She didn’t speak much English, but she loved the melodies, the playing, the singing. When she cried, we figured we were onto something.
The Weather Station plays the Great Hall, May 14, 8 p.m., $13.50, 1087 Queen St. W., Toronto; collectiveconcerts.com.