Black Belt Eagle Scout, “Mother of My Children”

Black Belt Eagle Scout
Mother of My Children
SADDLE CREEK
7/10

There’s a prevailing, gritty restraint coursing through Katherine Paul’s debut record under the Black Belt Eagle Scout moniker, Mother of My Children. Built upon a foundation of whispery melodies that threaten to break down under the weight of her lyrical sentiment, Paul’s grunge-y ballads simmer with both minimalism and crushing imagery sourced from her unabashed indigenous queer feminist identity.

Paul’s talents are on full display on Mother, as she performed all of the instrumentation on its eight lush tracks herself. Opening with the crunchy anthem “Soft Stud,” she employs a clunking chord progression, permitting the balance of an enchanting vocal performance lamenting the dilemma of desire in an open relationship. The song’s unfurling is pocked with pretty keyboards and a lengthy solo to bring the track to full alt-rock froth.

“Indians Never Die” similarly uses the looping pluck of a meandering guitar line to set the tone for Paul’s soaring vocals, this time more subdued and thoughtful, while engaging in a pretty clear call-out of disrespecting the Earth that provides our basic needs with the line, “Do you ever notice what surrounds you?”

Despite the lyrical repetition throughout Mother, the breadth of Paul’s sonic interests ultimately drives the record, dabbling in shoegaze-y fits of introspection (see the intro to “Just Lie Down”) one moment, and moody anti-folk (as heard on the album’s title track) the next.  

“Yard” is perhaps the strongest example of what Paul does best; a bare-bones, guitar-and-vocal composition lures you in before the song’s remaining minute allows a cascade of bass and drums to add the exclamation point you didn’t know you needed. It’s moments like this that make Mother of My Children the kind of album that can both haunt and heal you—if you pay close enough attention. 

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