Black Belt Eagle Scout – At the Party With My Brown Friends
Katherine Paul's follow-up to her debut album Mother of My Children, At the Party With My Brown Friends sees her replace sombre tones with a record full of love
Mother of My Children, Katherine Paul's debut album as Black Belt Eagle Scout, was a veritable patchwork quilt of mourning. Written while her friends and relatives protested at Standing Rock, and in the wake of both bereavement and a breakup, the record was coloured with the dusky hues of loss. It was a monochrome portrait of Paul’s life at its nadir, and of her identity as a radical indigenous queer feminist.
It may come as a surprise to some, then, that her latest offering, At the Party With My Brown Friends, is one centred upon love. Maternal love, filial love, the love and security of community, and finally, global and societal love (or lack thereof), particularly towards indigenous people and people of colour. That’s not to say that At the Party With My Brown Friends doesn’t have its shadows, its moments of darkness. It's more that if Mother of My Children was a breakup blanket, a place in which you cocoon and cry, ATPWMBF is a warm summer blanket to share with your favourite person.
The climactic chord progressions and grungy drumbeats of its predecessor, the kind that choke you up even before the vocals kick in, have been eclipsed by dreamlike lyricism and the gentle pairing of keys and picked guitars on ATPWMBF. The album truly reaches its zenith on Real Lovin and title track At the Party in which you can hear Paul’s early musical influences, which she describes as "the sound of my dad singing native chants to coo me to sleep as a baby," and "the powwows and the songs my grandfather and grandmother sang with my family in their drum group."
An album imbued with heartfelt sentiments, both expressed and inexpressible, At the Party with My Brown Friends is at once earnest, rippling with intensity, and a refreshing summer soundtrack. It’s a colossal forward-step for BBES, but one that keeps intact, and sees Paul’s unique artistic vision flourishing. Above all, it serves as a welcome and touching reminder that, in a global climate of political turbulence, intolerance, and bigotry, love and acceptance are critical.
Listen to: At the Party, Real Lovin, Half Colored Hair