Brooklyn’s Sonia Kreitzer has undergone quite the transformation in the process of ‘becoming’ Doe Paoro. Her latest musical guise may be far from the “neo-Motown slash rap” of her former band Sonia’s Party! & The Everyone’s Invited, but her debut album Slow To Love shares some of that outfit’s outlandish tendencies and rebellious approach to the songwriting process. Seemingly inspired by a stop in the Himalayas during a six-month globetrotting sabbatical last year, it’s a heartfelt, if sometimes perplexing, album that attempts to fuse ordinarily clashing musical styles into some kind of palatable whole – with mixed results.
Kreitzer describes the music of Doe Paoro as “ghost soul”, and the soul aspect is immediately apparent. Second single ‘Born Whole’ features some full-on soul diva singing among the diverse and sometimes abrasive array of vocal sounds that Kreitzer experiments with, while the opening track, simply called ‘Intro’, backs its heavily treated vocal pyrotechnics with some gutsy background wails. On ‘I’ll Go Blind’ the vibe at times feels borrowed from the funky blaxploitation soundtracks of the 1960s, while the warbled, sometimes shrill ‘Can’t Leave You’ piles on the gospel, with elegiac piano and choral backing adding to its hymn-like feel. And all this just on the album’s first four songs.
Not to be outdone by the diversity of Kreitzer’s vocals, the range of instrumentation on Slow To Love is equally impressive. The guitars and strings veer from scratchy and staccato to rich passages heavy with sorrow and yearning; the Hammond organ lends plenty of verve to ‘I’ll Go Blind’; and the synths at work on ‘Body Games’ lend a curious, if somewhat heavy-handed, Afrobeat feel to the track. The epic gospel meets world fusion arrangement of ‘Body Games’ certainly takes some quite concerted listening to get a handle on, but it joins both ‘Born Whole’ and ‘Slow To Love’ as the album’s most memorable moments. The title track in particular stands out with its hesitant guitars and lo-fi, pared-back sound, making it the album’s most authentically emotional number.
[Self-release; February 13, 2012]