Black Belt Eagle Scout - 'Mother Of My Children' Album Review
1. Soft Stud
2. Indians Never Die
4. Mother Of My Children
6. I Don't Have You In My Life
7. Just Lie Down
8. Sam, A Dream
Black Belt Eagle Scout (aka Portland-based Katherine Paul) is an indigenous 'queer' musician whose debut album, 'Mother Of My Children', is about “grief and love for people, but also about being a native person in what is the United States today.” The album deals with loss in so many contexts which is probably due to two difficult events that she was dealing with. The realisation that a long term relationship was nearing it's end and the death of her mentor. The grief is palpable.
The album opens with 'Soft Stud' which starts with a really dirty scuzzy guitar riff. The guitar really conveys the angst of someone who needs someone she knows she shouldn’t, someone who is already taken. Her silky vocal is in direct contrast to the clunky guitar riffs. The musical interludes between the vocals add contrast, the rough against the smooth if you like. The frustration is demonstrated with the lyrics such as 'I know you're taken, Need you want you ' I know you're taken'.
'Indians Never Die' is about the strength that the indigenous peoples have showed throughout a pretty dark history of persecution. It is a far gentler song with the instrumentation this time complimenting Paul's silky lyrics. The vocal is crisp and clear and each word delivered with clarity. Again the lyrics, though delivered with a soft and gentle tone are powerful. 'Do you ever notice what's around you? When it's all right under our skin'. The use of the cymbals to build is very effective. Like a lot of the songs on the album, the lyrics are pretty simple and sparse, with a lot of gentle instrumentation.
'Keyboard' starts with a pretty harsh synth drum machine. It contrasts, with the previous gentle track. Again the instrumentation is in contrast to the gentle almost whispered vocal in places. Lyrically this is about as simple as you can get. The instrumentation though with its electro sonic sound is somewhat unsettling.
The title track follows with 'Mother Of My Children'. This is another mesmerising song with the vocal and instrumentation fusing together. The lyrical delivery of 'You' sound more like a musical note than a word. It is a dreamy track that seems to just stay at one tempo. 'Yard', like 'Keyboard' contains very few lyrics, and like the previous track uses Paul's voice as part of the instrumentation. The track builds with stronger percussion towards the end. Whilst this is a nice track, I was unsure of the meaning, but that's not always the be all and end all.
The next two tracks however are obviously about that time in a relationship when you know the end is nigh. 'I Don't Have You In My Life', by comparison to some of the previous songs is awash with lyrical content. It starts with catchy indie guitar riff, and the vocal is stronger as Paul shows a different side to her. The tempo varies as the song rises and falls. This is a song about loss and the grief of loss, you can feel it, both in the instrumentation and in the vocal delivery. The sense of alienation within a relationship shines through. 'Just Lie Down' starts with a cacophony of noise, percussion, screaming guitars, feedback and reverb. The dirty scuzzy guitar is back as the song descends into the breakdown. 'Just lie down, head on the ground. Sky looks blue Just like you'. The tempo builds with an indie grunge guitar driving the arrangement.
The album draws to a close far too soon with 'Sam, A Dream'. A simple guitar chord progression intro leads into Paul's plaintive vocal. This song could be about either one of those traumatic events in her life and there is a sense of resignation as she sings 'Well you know there's not much time, for you and I in the sky. Cos you know there's not much longer for our two hearts In the clouds'. The instrumentation is exquisite in this song which is predominantly an instrumental. It builds in such a way, as you feel you are in a dream sequence.
At only just over half an hour long this Album borders on being an EP, and it leaves you wanting more.
Black Belt Eagle Scout (aka Portland-based Katherine Paul) has released a beguiling album, with contrast and, at times, raw emotion. This combined with her sweet and soft vocals delivers a piece of work that is significantly different from anything else released recently. The album stands alone as a testament of strength of character in the face of adversity, and that being not O.K is O.K.
Website - www.blackbelteaglescout.com
Review - Tony Creek