Black Belt Eagle Scout – the name given to Katherine Paul's brilliantly textured recording project – burst onto the scene, in 2018, with the auspicious debut Mother of My Children. With those eight expansive tracks, Black Belt Eagle Scout won the hearts and minds of music fans who long for a sense of melancholy to come along and envelop them in noise and quiet. Black Belt Eagle Scout mostly explores darkly moody, ambient waves of sound, but also takes the odd detour into humming, guitar-rock churn. No matter what musical direction Black Belt Eagle Scout goes in, though, the constant element is Paul's finely observed, disarmingly honest lyrics.
Mother of My Children was met with plaudits from places like NPR, Paste, Stereogum, and Pitchfork – the latter of which named it one of the best rock albums of the year. Paul smartly decided not to keep people waiting for her next offering, releasing her second album, At the Party With My Brown Friends, this past August. Black Belt Eagle Scout neatly avoids the pitfalls of the sophomore slump, resisting the urge for self-indulgence, and instead confidently leaning into what made her debut so beloved. Still playing every instrument herself, Paul doubles down on mood-driven compositions, while more seamlessly incorporating more punchy rhythms and expressive guitar.
Paul's lyrical point of view has always concerned her uncertain place in life, exploring the joys and struggles of being a queer, indigenous feminist in Washington in the 21st century. On Mother of My Children, there as a palpable sense of heartache and longing, with songs inspired by the death of a friend and the dissolution of a relationship. At the Party With My Brown Friends is not exactly a carefree affair – the title comes from Paul imagining herself and every other POC supporting one another at the “party” that is this world – it does feel a bit more hopeful than its predecessor. Paul describes the album as mainly being about friendship, that invaluable lifeline that can keep one tethered and bolstered through a life that can be so harsh.
Whether you choose to absorb the words of Black Belt Eagle Scout, or simply let the music wash over you, you're likely to come out on the other side with a fuller heart and a more determined spirit.
Check out their KEXP performance below and grab your tickets to see Black Belt Eagle Scout at Alma Mater’s Fawcett Hall on October 22nd.