ALBUM PREMIERE: DOE PAORO ‘SOFT POWER’
L.A.’s Doe Paoro has a new album with a new sound that’s actually an old sound. No more synths and digi-drums—at its best, Soft Power connects Paoro’s vocals to a classy/classic big-budget/big city 1970s soul backing band, the kind of top-flite outfit that helped put soft power in the sad songs on Bobby “Blue” Bland’s Dreamer or Roberta Flack’s Quiet Fire. “Loose Plans” and especially “Cruelty of Nature” are the one-two punch, with precisely produced AOR-goes-Muscle Shoals feel. She loves Carole King, and you can hear it, but the she-sounds-like-Amy Winehouse press isn’t wrong, either, particularly once you hear her “Guilty” and the way she sings “I know I’m not the first …” There’s an unexpected new wave song “Walk Through The Fire”—her Kate Bush influence?—as well as a KCRW-ready big-chorus anthem “Fading Into Black” and vox-and-guitar finale “The Vine” for texture and dynamic. (Easy to see how these might all fit in to a live set.) There is a soul band in here, but Soft Power is more connected to that moment in the mid-late-70s when solo singer-songwriters decided they didn’t want to be so solo anymore. The band actually works best on the soft stuff—the real power here comes straight from Paoro. Soft Power is out Fri., Oct. 19, on ANTI-.