I saw Doe Paoro at the SofarLA concert last week in Culver City. It was a very crowded room and I stood literally right next to her as she sang, perched a bit precariously on a stool. Any closer and I would have been dodging her elbows. I was immediately taken by her voice - operatic in range but blues and rock and something else in tone. She could magical things with it, which was emphasized by the fact that she was singing almost acappella, with only a guitarist accompanying her who told me later they did not have much practice time, which made it that much more impressive. So I booked her on the spot and then started researching her.
What I found is that the SofarLA concert was a rare and wonderful way to see Doe; she is highly collaborative and can put on a remarkable show both visually and sonically. The chance to see her alone, solo, just there filling a room with her majestic voice, was a gift.
As a songwriter and vocalist, Doe Paoro moves easily across genres and creates new ones on the fly. Her 2012 debut album Slow to Love was praised for its stark production and a raw ethereal vocals shaped by her study of Tibetan folk opera. Her follow up album is much broader. With many shifts and finely textured sound. She worked with producers Sean Carey (drummer/supporting vocalist for Bon Iver) and BJ Burton (musician/producer/engineer: POLIÇA, Sylvan Esso, The Tallest Man On Earth and Volcano Choir) to create a hybrid of R&B, synth-pop and indie-leaning electro that’s rooted in earthy minimalism. “I’m used to just having a piano and working with that,” says Doe, “but with this album we built an entire world with the sonics alone.”
Doe spent a year traveling alone, including four months in India, plus time in Egypt and Greece – a long way from her base in LA, her home in Brooklyn and her birthplace in Syracuse, New York. But she has never been daunted by much. She self-released her first album at age 15, played for several years in a Brooklyn-based band and then quit music altogether. But she couldn’t stay away for long and assembled Slow to Love before she took off for Sweden for her second album, After, part of which she wrote in the depths of Swedish winter when there’s about four hours of sunlight per day. Along the way she developed stunning visuals for her performances and videos - her "Born Whole" video in which she makes her way out of a derelict building and through woods and a lake, blindfolded following a rope, is an example - giving her videos and her music a rarely achieved depth. And she has fun – drumming and dancing and generally proving that music is happiness as well as emotion.