‘Ignorance’ showcases Lindeman’s ability to effortlessly add multitudes of layers of meaning into her lyrics
Tamara Lindeman’s voice is husky, while also capable of accessing a falsetto, it is strong, yet vulnerable. It’s both remarkably straightforward and also packed with pain and hurt. The nature of Lindeman’s voice is that it can be hard on first-listen to work out exactly what she’s saying – but this almost feels like a purposeful part of the album’s design: ‘Ignorance’ isn’t meant to be casual, background listening – it’s truths are stark, dark and necessary and, as a result, demand your full attention. As made resolutely clear by Lindeman, the 10-track project is a result of her own anxieties and frustrations with the state of climate change – and the lacklustre response to it from our leaders. The heaviness and specificity of such a theme could put many listeners off if it wasn’t for Lindeman’s greatest – and most unique – asset as a songwriter: her ability to effortlessly add multitudes of layers of meaning into her lyrics. This isn’t a new skill for Lindeman, but it is one who’s necessity comes into stark focus when dealing with environmental destruction: a matter that while suffocatingly urgent seems to engender a sense of detachment in many.
In contrast to the stark, darkness of ‘Ignorance’s’ themes, the song-writing and delivery is underpinned by an unapologetic softness and empathy. On ‘Separated’ – a track about the meanness and spite of modern-day culture (in particular, online) – Lindeman only passes judgement on her adversaries, in so far as trying to understand their motives for their viciousness (“If you can’t carry your pain you will lay it on me”). On ‘Parking Lot’, she takes the example of a pigeon – a bird largely dismissed as annoying, unsightly and dirty – and effortlessly identifies it’s humanity, detailing the intimacy of watching “It’s small chest rising and falling / As it sang the same song”. Elsewhere on the song, her emotions are presented in an all-together foggier matter, as she sings, “See some birds / It just kills me and / I don’t know why”. Here, she leaves the listener to fill in the blanks as to why she feels this way – perhaps it’s because, as alluded to earlier, seeing a bird forces you to reckon with it’s humanity and fragility, and inherent in this recognition, is the recognition of how such humanity and fragility is largely unrecognised and unappreciated. Lindeman never explore further this feeling – on ‘Parking Lot’, she admits to not wanting to “undress” many of her feelings. Once again, this sense of unknown adds both to the relatability and emotional weight of the album; that feeling of inexplicable grief – that leaves the tightest knot in the deepest pits of your stomach with out any guidance of how to untie it – is instantly relatable.
Perhaps what shines through most clearly on ‘Ignorance’ is it’s authenticity: environmentalism and anti-Capitalism are hardly controversial opinions within the majority of the music world and countless artists have used such topics as little more than an opportunity to virtue-signal and appear woke. Yet the no-frills approach of ‘Ignorance’ and the clarity of its truths make Lindeman’s authenticity and sincerity of belief unquestionable. No where is this clarity clearer than on opener ‘Robber’, whose presentation of capitalism – represented as a ‘Robber’ – is far more multi-dimensional than it’s title would have you believe. The track speaks to the ever-increasing, encompassing effect of capitalism – how, you are forced to participate within it’s system of rules regardless of your level of agreement with them and, capitalism’s cruelly uncaring nature (“You never believed in the robber / But the robber never believed in you”). In the song’s final minute, an orchestral instrumentation begins to build – at first slowly and then at increasing pace. Either by mistake or design – though, given Lindeman’s care to her craft, probably by design – the instrumental build-up mimics the uncertain, destabilising feeling of watching our economic system slowly collapse under the weight of inequality, illness and division.
Elsewhere, on the album are similar moments of lyrical genius, which capture so incisively fundamental truths that they stop you in your tracks – even in spite of the luscious melodies. On ‘Tried to Tell You’, Lindeman sings “I feel as useless as a tree in a city park / Standing as a symbol of what we have blown apart”.
There aren’t any other moments on the album that contain such concise, disarming moments, though that’s not to say there aren’t similarly powerful moments on the album. ‘Subdivisions’ takes a page out of Phoebe Bridger’s playbook and relies on detailed descriptions to create vivid imagery, while album highlight ‘Heart’ stands as an ode to feeling fully and embracing softness a strength (“I don’t have the heart to conceal my love / When I know it is the best of me”, “I will feel all my loss / I will hold my heart inside me”). ‘Heart’s’ a great track, but by this point on the album, we don’t even need Lindeman to tell us of her emotional vulnerability; the rest of the album serves as proof of this and as proof of why it’s so necessary.
Best Track: ‘Heart’
Worst Track: ‘Wear’