by Richard Wyatt
Katherine Paul, going under her alias as Black Belt Eagle Scout, returns with her sophomore album, At The Party with My Brown Friends. The record comes only two years after her much acclaimed debut album, Mother Of My Children, which significantly provided a snapshot into loss and the landscape of Paul’s standing as a radical indigenous queer feminist.
A key to truly understanding Black Belt Eagle Scout’s music is to understand Paul’s background and ancestry. Paul grew up on Puget Sound, on a small reservation called the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in North West Washington State. She was raised around powwows and the traditional indigenous songs sung to her by her family which have been passed on to her by her ancestors through the generations. While the indigenous style of music is not instantly recognisable within her music, the heart and passion of her ancestral music lives on within Paul’s work.
At The Party with My Brown Friends represents a significant break to the album’s predecessor both thematically and musically. While the power of her guitar driven anthems have now given way for a more delicate vocals and a softer sound, this record still has the distinct heart of Black Belt Eagle Scout running throughout it, which fans of their first collection will certainly enjoy.
The nine tracks deal with the well-trodden themes of love, lust and friendship, but are delivered in Paul’s unique style. Highlights on the album include lead single, At the Party, which covers the importance of having a network of supportive friends, the dreamy Going to the beach with Haley, which deals with her friendship with fellow musician Haley Heynderickx, and You’re me and I’m You – a song about maternal love for a child, written as a loving tribute to her own mother.
Paul’s sophomore collection represents a considerable change in direction for Black Belt Eagle Scout, but the firm sense of solidarity with those groups marginalised within society still burns as strong as ever within this album. Black Belt Eagle Scout has delivered an album which will continue to add members to the ever-burgeoning fan base, and cements Paul as one of the most interesting songwriters in alternative music today.
Secret Meeting score: 78