When an eerie September windstorm roared through the Pacific Northwest, sparking historic wildfires that choked the region with hazardous smoke, Portland singer-songwriter Alela Diane took to the piano in her backyard studio and began to pour her unease into a song.
By the next day, Diane, who is known for her “immaculately beautiful indie-folk songs”(Paste Magazine), had recorded a rough version of the epic “Howling Wind,” the first single from her cathartic and ethereal sixth studio album Looking Glass.
What began during the unfolding of a single natural disaster evolved into a song about the wider instability and volatility of contemporary life. The “howling wind” becomes a metaphor for our many collective fears and sorrows, captured here in powerfully stark imagery. (“The orange sun burning through the smoke/vultures circling til a man choked/There is war in the street.”) In Diane’s warm voice, the mounting chorus itself takes on the feeling of a howl, mellifluous but urgent: “Howling wind, there’s a howling wind/ A wild wind that’s howling through all that we’ve built.”