Saddle Creek – August 30th
Surrendering your voice to your surroundings is a boldly quiescent choice for a sophomore album. On a debut which introduced Katherine Paul, aka Black Belt Eagle Scout, to the world with a neat assertion – representing both Paul’s present-day queer feminism, and her Native American upbringing on the Swinomish Indian Reservation in NW Washington state – those facts have now been sublimated into a far softer, prettier sound. On At The Party With My Brown Friends, instead of using words, Paul’s more likely to use long, whooping notes; her voice now being used more as an ambient instrument than as a troubadour. While on the surface, this album doesn’t do much to separate her from her friends and musical peers – Hayley Hendrickx, Jay Som, and Hand Habits are a few that come to mind – it’s clear that behind it, there’s a heart as large as the wide beaches and canyonscapes that Paul conjures on the album. Ultimately, this album is a stepping stone, but if Paul can align her virtuosity with her vision, then her third album will triumph.
Photo by Sarah Cass.