When I first heard Tamara Lindeman’s voice, it changed me. While that may sound overly dramatic, it’s true. Her music wasn’t just the result of teenage heartache. In fact, at the time, she was no musician. Tamara wrote songs and learned notes to help her get through her pain.
Now, after an EP steeped in potential, successful full length, and endless note perfect harmonies with the likes of Daniel Romano and The Bruce Peninsula, it’s hard to see Tamara as anything but a musician. She’s a seasoned pro with a beautiful voice, an appreciation of the little things and enough charm to win over the most ambivalent audience. Her new record, All of it Was Mine, is free from pretension or restrictions. It’s free in spirit; a collection of songs that can’t be held, only embraced.
Tamara sat down and wrote a nice piece about the influence her friends and the setting had on her record, as well as some of the meaning hidden under her delicate riffs. Enjoy.
“Everything I Saw”
This song came as a complete surprise to me, like nothing I’d written at the time. Bluegrass-y, kind of happy. It’s about the house I live in, it’s state of disrepair, my tiny backyard, things I attempted or failed or succeeded to grow there, the kids toys and garbage I’d pull out of the dirt. Couldn’t understand why a song about such mundane things would have such an effect on me when I sang it. But as the record took shape I just about started to see this song as the one that summed everything up. Almost didn’t need to write more. It’s a song about so many things, among them the burden of ownership. The weight of having anything, even something that is good.
“Came So Easy”
A song about being given beautiful things. Written at the height of July when everything is fuck all hot in Toronto and the house was infested with pantry moths, ants, fruit flies, mice, and stray cats I’d have to chase out in the middle of the night. Everything wants sweetness and to get to it we all tend to wreak some havoc, then half the time we get it and don’t even want it, or just devour right through it till it’s gone. But it’s still damn sweet. That’s what this one is.
This was the last song written for the album, wrote it on the streetcar, in my head, kind of at the moment it describes. A song about that first moment of loss, when it hasn’t hit you yet. The weight of familiarity lifts and it’s freeing, at first.
A song written about words, a song hoping for them to stay with me, evasive creatures that they are and can be. A song wishing for grace. I find it a sad song, but I feel like I could just rest my head on that pillowy pedal steel and everything will be alright. Warmest recording ever.
“Chip On My Shoulder”
Maybe this song is a warning. Talking about things that could come easy, make you wealthy even, but when you know why they are headed your way, what they mean – well I guess I’ve got a chip on my shoulder about it. And it’s caused me trouble. But I’m proud of that chip too. Keeps you standing up straight, keeps you safe. Better to have it than not.
“Know It To See It”
This song is sort of an oversimplification of the moment when somebody gets desperate. When the thing that’s keeping them on track, that thing keeping them from doing unkind things to others, when that thing disappears. Fantastically maybe, like a creature running through the bush. And then they’re light as a feather, but lost. You can see it in their eyes.
“Yarrow and Mint”
I never thought this song would see the light of day, thought nothing of it. A song with a lot of flowers, weeds that grow on my street, the worth it seemed to me of knowing their names, knowing their scents. Came out dead sad. The best thing about this recording is Misha Bower singing wordlessly in the background. It was three in the morning or something, she’d never heard the song, and Dan said ‘go sing oohs.’ She did, and it was straight up magic, of course.
“Running Around Asking”
A song about the impossibility of advice, the limitations of talk. I thought nothing of this song too, thought it was just a couple lines and I needed to add more to it. But luckily I left it short and half silent, as the point of this song isn’t what is in it, it’s what isn’t in it.
I guess it’s a continuation of the previous – you can ask all you want but there are a lot of things nobody’s ever going to tell you. Bold statement maybe, but I think this song is kind of a fuck it, too. That classic all is lost, it’s alright joyful kind of feeling. Dan’s guitar solo just murders me in this one. Recorded late at night, off the cuff, and straight up sums it all up.
“If I’ve Been Fooled”
I wrote this song in a couple minutes on the beach on Toronto Island. Recorded it a couple days later. I think everyone tends to see their lives as a story, and even though they’re smart enough to know it’s just a story, and it ends badly, people still give up a hell of a lot to go chasing after it. So I find this to be a terribly sad song, but I love the way it turned out, Dan and Misha right in the pocket on the harmonies, everything warm and smooth like butter. If it’s all a story, and a damn sad one at that, you might as well tell it beautifully, and keep it short. That’s the record, for me.