REVIEW: Black Belt Eagle Scout – At The Party With My Brown Friends

Do you like a close talker whose voice is like a buttermilk biscuit cradling you to sleep? You may not have any experience with such a person, but I do, now that I’ve immersed myself in Katherine Paul’s latest album, At the Party with My Brown Friends.

I’m not sure what party she is talking about, but I am brown, and I certainly feel invited and am looking forward to meeting the other guests. Paul, who performs as Black Belt Eagle Scout, has produced an album that is as genuine a welcome to a personal journey of self-exploration that you will find today. An invitation to a personal journey may sound like a self-absorbed endeavour, but this one is not particularly indulgent or inaccessible. Take the second track, ‘My Heart Dreams’ for example. The second chorus rings:

And I wake up.

I love you.

Screaming loudly;

Screaming softly, too.

You’re my dream.

I need you.

Screaming loudly;

Screaming softly, too.

We’re thrust in medias res (look it up, fools), into a scene that resonates with anyone who has loved and lost and wants to love again with the same intensity that brought you a joyful scream of days past. If that sounds sexual, it should. Paul’s voice is soft, alluring, seductive, and warm, all at once. By the end of this short 35 minute album, all you want to do is sit and talk with her about life and the future.

Much of what has been written about Black Belt Eagle Scout centres on her identity as a Native American of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in the Pacific Northwest, as a queer feminist with a strong commitment to social justice. When you listen to her voice as it almost whispers directly into your ear, most of those identity markers seem to fade and give way to the permanence of longing.

Spend the next half-hour in a quiet room with ‘At the Party with My Brown Friends,’ and give the first person you love a soft kiss. It’ll feel perfect, especially after the exquisite last track.

Words by Nirmal Trivedi

2 comments

  1. “You’re Me and I’m You”. This is great. I liked this immediately. Thanks, Nirmal. I’ll probably listen to this daily for two weeks or two years.

    Like

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