By Kwase Lane, Staff Writer
[Saddle Creek; 2019]
Key tracks: “My Heart Dreams” “Run It To Ya” “You’re Me and I’m You”
Tinged with discontent, Black Belt Eagle Scout tries to make sense of her place in the world on her second LP, At The Party With My Brown Friends. Like her debut record, Mother of My Children, Katherine Paul’s newest addition to her discography offers more of the sometimes-salty, sometimes-sweet questions that listeners are familiar with. However, this is hardly an issue, as she always seems to find a satisfying answer by the end of an album.
On the second track, “My Heart Dreams”, Black Belt Eagle Scout paints a scene of longing and self-assurance. During the post-chorus, Paul’s voice weaves around itself in a call and response fashion, easily carrying on the energy of the previous track and adding an air of angst that didn’t exist before.
“Run It To Ya” finds Paul spinning a comforting, dreamlike yarn, and her words carry a deep sense of affirmation along with them: “You like flowers / I pick flowers / You like milk / I have cows / When the day / Turns to night / Oh, that time / Sure is nice.” Even with this message of love, there is still a deep sadness in the cadence of her voice. It’s like talking yourself through a rough patch: you know you’ll be OK, but that doesn’t make the pain any less real.
On the final track, “You’re Me and I’m You”, Paul hollows out her sound until it resembles an echoing cathedral. Black Belt Eagle Scout leverages this simplicity into a familiar, timeless feeling. Just when you think you’ve heard all the pieces they have to offer, Paul makes her voice soar to chilling peaks that would send a chill down anyone’s spine before descending to her normal range. Once the piece returns you to the ground, it is abloom with the muted beat of a drum that brings your heartbeat in line with itself. The song breathes with an uncertain, yet confident poise that makes it the perfect conclusion for this project.
At The Party With My Brown Friends shows a remarkable amount of growth on the part of Black Belt Eagle Scout. It manages to capture all of the same emotions as Mother of My Children without resorting to the same drastic highs and lows. Paul’s voice is now imbued with the lessons learned in her past, and she barely has to break a sweat to let her audience feel her joys and sorrows.