According to front man and lyricist Shane Told, the album is a concept album, similar to 2009's, A Shipwreck in the Sand. Told said of the album:
The idea of this album is how a person's life can change forever with just one event. It is the "what if" that everyone thinks about from time to time. This album is different from a typical start to finish story concept album, or an album where all the songs have a common theme. Each track has a parallel track that tells the story in a different light, what would have happened if things were different due to a single event. The song titles of each parallel track go together, forming a sentence or in some cases two words that relate to each other and to the story. Overall, the point of this album is not to prove the existence of fate, or to disprove it. It's a discussion of life, of loss, of and , of success within failure, of failure within success, of the struggle between your actions and your feelings, and how those don't always go together. This Is How The Wind Shifts is a journey that jumps around but stays cohesive, with underlying meaning and stories that have a real human meaning and cater to the soul.
The two interlude tracks, This Is How and The Wind Shifts, from side A and B respectively, harmonize and form a single song, This Is How The Wind Shifts, when played simultaneously.
The music to the first part of Departures is the combined track, This Is How The Wind Shifts, played backwards, then reversed. So it is the same music, but with backwards effect.