“The Wind,” the new single from Los Angeles-based singer and composer Doe Paoro, produced by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, was born in a hurricane. During a sojourn in New York, Paoro found herself cut off in her home as Hurricane Sandy raged outside, a song emerging from the terrifying, compelling vocal-like sounds of the wind and water outside.
“Everything was shut down and it was this really end of days vibe,” Paoro recalls. “Everyone was collectively stranded by the elements in this weird no man’s land. I became captivated by what I was hearing and came up with this idea of the wind. I was mystified by the power of nature and I feel like that curiosity is in the song.”
The track builds steadily around a simple piano refrain and stirring strings, the first line belonging to Paoro’s songwriting collaborator Adam Rhodes: “You only show enough to keep me guessing.” From there words quickly collapse, and the track builds around odd manipulated vocal sounds and distant whisps of lyrics, as if the singers are keening into a wind blowing the words back into their mouths. “I think the lyrics speak to this idea that we’re constantly in this state of mystery with other people and to our own selves as well,” Paoro explains. “People are always changing, and you can really never assume to know anyone else. So it’s about the unmasking of continual identity. And that ghostly quality of what it feels like.” The songs’ haunting, evasive language recalls the work of artists such as James Blake, with its manipulated, wordless soul gestures; all this tracked and arranged with Vernon’s trademark austerity, over a hypnotic beat via Chicago duo Supreme Cuts.