Mother of My Children Album Review
Written by Jeff Ramella on October 30, 2018
Reviewed by Evan Dekens
In the tradition of artists like Cat Power and Grouper, Mother of My Children, Black Belt Eagle Scout’s debut record offers a stirring collection of dissonant tones, haunted memories, and a sleek, modern guitar sound. Katherine Paul, the woman behind Black Belt Eagle Scout, has described herself as a “radical indigenous queer feminist,” an identity very much tied to the songs she writes, bringing a Native American background to her music which serves as a thematic backdrop to the already intense debut. Recorded in rural Washington in the dead of winter, Katherine Paul embarked to write an album about loss, lust, and relationships to the natural world. Written in the wake of a personal tragedy (her mentor had recently passed away after battling pancreatic cancer) and the dissolution of her first romantic relationship with a woman, the album’s track listing bounces back and forth between high and low points of emotional turmoil, at times distant and contemplative, and at others loud, energetic and shifting.
Thematically, Paul’s lyrics paint pictures of unrequited love affairs, foreboding settings, and “I know you’re taken, need you, want you” she sings over heavy distorted guitar riffs on the Album’s sleek opener, Soft Stud, a frank admission of hopeless romantic desire. While the faster tracks chronicle love and lust, the softer songs are contemplative and emotive. On the track, Indians Never Die Paul asks, “Do you ever notice what surrounds you, when it’s all right under our skin?” Paul’s ability to blend these emotional counterpoints is impressive and moving, and suggests a hidden thoughtfulness about the album’s structure
Still, the sleek debut doesn’t break any musical ground. At times, the songs grow too dissonant, too haunted to be effective, specifically on the track Yard. Still, Black Belt Eagle Scout’s debut is a compact collection of songs from a songwriter whose perspective on music is fresh and exciting, and her career is just beginning.
Rating: 3.9/5 Stars
Fav. Tracks: “Soft Stud,” “Just Lie Down,” “Sam,” “A Dream”
Least Fav. Track: “Yard”