The Weather Station – ‘All Of It Was Mine’

Review by Jordaan Mason

“What if I’ve been fooled / by a story, or a song / or a memory remembered wrong?”
— “If I’ve Been Fooled”

Sometimes I have to wonder: what really happened? What’s an experience and how do I know if I’ve had one? Memory is, by nature, imperfect; it’s messy, futile, and even dishonest at times. We have the ability to invent our own versions of our lives in our heads. We have sentimental attachments to certain objects that bring us back to specific periods of our lives, and we hold onto them sometimes without any real way of articulating why to anyone else. We remember details and fragments of our lives, often miscalculating chronology entirely, forgetting entire pieces of the story. But there’s something to be said about what those details say about our experience.

All Of It Was Mine, the newest record from The Weather Station, is ornately detailed: lilac, a jar of your parent’s honey, milkweed silk, “little flecks on the brick, where the paint did not stick,” and the Madawaska view. All of these images seem immediately recognizable, somehow nostalgic, even—despite the fact that they are entirely specific to the songwriter, Tamara Lindeman. These songs have been grown in dirt, tended to; a collection of memories weeded together, to make sense of the sensory, to find self in the tactile. The songs are not unlike being invited into someone’s home to rustle through their belongings.

The word mine implies ownership, which, considering many of the songs on this record evoke relationships—family, friends, and partners alike—is important to note. The first song, “Everything I Saw,” asserts this ownership—Tamara goes on to catalog a gorgeously meticulous, seemingly patchwork list of various items, “all of [which] are [hers].” These items seem crucial to her forming of an identity for herself; these are things that belong to her and make her who she is. She comments on the way others attempt to inform her identity in “Chip On My Shoulder,” where she sings: “All of them loved me / because I was empty / and they saw in me something they could feed,” attesting to the fact that to the outside world, and to the people in her life, her identity may not yet be fully formed.

Though the relationships in the songs never seem easy—there is at times a kind of hardship, perhaps; an inability to communicate, a quietness—they seem to be a labour of love. These relationships are left, intentionally it seems, somewhat vague, and juxtaposed against exterior imagery, especially in songs like “Running Around Asking” and “Trying,” the listener is invited to fill in the blanks with their own secrets, and find their own way through the songs. The journey of the record is one of displaced self-discovery, and thankfully we find out in “Nobody,” that “it was hard-won, but I found my place.”

The music itself seems, somehow, timeless. Part of the album’s immediate appeal is the mixture of harmonized singing, plucked banjos, and subtle guitar work, which give the album a warm, crisp sound. I had the joy of hearing this album for the first time at the crack of dawn, riding my bike on empty streets as the sun started to make its way over the trees and buildings of the city before it woke up entirely. The album is a perfect soundtrack to the end of summer, and the approach of fall, which is echoed in the album itself: the imagery shifts from summer (“Came So Easy”) to winter (“Nobody”) by the end of the record.

What makes the album truly special is that it’s both lovely and reckless; the songs are, of course, very beautiful, but Tamara’s not afraid to get her hands dirty and go searching for something more, something buried underneath all those flowers in her garden. And despite the record’s personal nature, the fact that is essentially an exploration of a singular identity, the songs end up being surprisingly inviting to the listener, engaging them in her memories and allowing them to feel as though all of it is theirs, too.