Black Belt Eagle Scout

photo credit – Sarah Cass

Black Belt Eagle Scout; the moniker of Portland-based multi-instrumentalist Katherine Paul released an excellent sophomore album titled At the Party With My Brown Friends in 2019. That seemed to get lost in the shuffle with my real job, kids, life, etc. I spent a lot of time with over the holidays after seeing it pop on a number of year-end lists and she really is something special. She’s heading out on a North American and European tour this year and has released an excellent video for I Said I Wouldn’t Write This Song

Its animated video was edited and directed by Chantal Jung (Inujuk Nunatsiavutimi), and is meant to raise awareness of the Alaskan coastline and its deep connection with Indigenous people and animals. “The video features Northern imagery that shows aspects of Inuit life, including cloudberry picking, animal relatives and Arctic landscapes,” describes Jung. “People often forget that our livelihoods are extremely connected to the environment, including the animals and plants that live among us. This video is meant to bring awareness of the land, the animals and the people who protect the land.”

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Black Belt Eagle Scout is on Instagram

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Photo Credit: Sarah Cass

Black Belt Eagle Scout – the project led by multi-instrumentalist Katherine Paul – announces her sophomore album, At the Party With My Brown Friends, out August 30th via Saddle Creek. Following up on her debut, Mother Of My Children, the first track, At The Party, is a winner. Here’s some more info from the PR team.

Lead single “At the Party” is a reflection on self-navigation and the comfort that comes from a close-knit group of friends. It starts off with quintessential Black Belt Eagle Scout guitar licks before heading into booming drums and vocals. The track was written while she was in her bedroom. “Within my conscious self, there is always a sense of questioning the legitimacy of the world when you grow up on an Indian reservation,” says Paul. “We are all at the party (the world), trying to navigate ourselves within a good or bad situation. I happen to be at the party with my brown friends- Indigenous, Black, POC who always have my back while we walk throughout this event called life.”

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Photo Credit – Jason Quigley

Sam, A Dream is everything I am looking for in the closing track of an album. The songs starts slowly, building til the rhythm section kicks in, giving the guitar solo some direction. If I didn’t hear the vocals, I’d think it was a Strand Of Oaks tune, which is high praise from me.

Black Belt Eagle Scout is Katherine Paul and as she puts it, she’s a “radical indigenous queer feminist,” and I’m smitten withe her guitar playing. The opening track, Soft Stud, opens with a crunchy riff and towards the end there is just the right amount of feedback. It is a pining song, Paul’s vocals shifting between smoky pleading and whispering.

In between those bookends, Paul takes on a bit of an emotional journey that builds on intensity and volume as it moves towards the aforementioned closer. Indians Never Die is a gorgeous tune (and video) inspired by the protests at Standing Rock but going back to colonizers, “who don’t respect the Earth; they don’t care about the water, they don’t care about how they are destroying what is around them.” The penultimate tune, Just Lie Down is crunchy noisy track that tries to paint that the feeling when your madness and sadness.

I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Paul, but I do feel closer to her after listening to this album on repeat this past week. And isn’t that the whole point of art, making a connection with the listener/viewer.

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Black Belt Eagle Scout is on Instagram

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Photo Credit – Jason Quigley

Black Belt Eagle Scout is the project of Katherine “KP” Paul, someone who identifies as a “radical indigenous queer feminist.” Paul grew up on a small reservation with her family, learning the play guitar via bootleg copies of Nirvana and Hole records. The song below is outstanding and being that I don’t encounter too many radical indigenous queer feminists in the Chicago burbs, I am anxious to hear more of her message. Mother Of My Children will see the light of day on 9/14 via the fine folks at Saddle Creek.

Recorded in the middle of winter near her hometown in Northwest Washington, Paul’s connection to the landscape’s eerie beauty are palpable throughout as the album traces the full spectrum of confronting buried feelings and the loss of what life was supposed to look like. Paul reflects, “I wrote this album in the fall of 2016 after two pretty big losses in my life. My mentor, Geneviève Castrée, had just died from pancreatic cancer and the relationship I had with the first woman I loved had drastically lessened and changed.” Heavy and heartbroken, Paul found respite from the weight of such loss in the creation of these songs that “are about grief and love for people, but also about being a native person in what is the United States today.”

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Black Belt Eagle Scout is on Instagram

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