The longing, dreamy howl of Black Belt Eagle Scout’s Katherine Paul is one that will haunt you long after you’ve heard it. On her sophomore album, At the Party with My Brown Friends, Paul’s voice hits like a gentle wave amidst shimmering pop-rock melodies that operate like soothing head-bangers. Where Paul’s debut, Mother of My Children, explored a rock sound with sharper edges, her latest release delves into a softer, more romantic space.
Intimate moments with friends, family, community, and lovers populate Paul’s songwriting, from the sweet memory of a day on the coast (“Going to the Beach with Haley”) to a deeper exploration of identity through conversations with friends (“At the Party”). Identity factors strongly into Paul’s music — finding it, owning it, questioning it. Her most recent video, for one of the album’s standout tracks “Run It To Ya,” finds her creating a queer, indigenous prom. The video shows us an almost magical, otherworldly safe space outside the confines of white, heteronormative rules. This song is a beauty, like what it sounds like to fall in love for the first time or lock eyes with someone across a crowded room. We get a similar feeling hearing songs like “Scorpio Moon” and “My Heart Dreams,” both celestial and gentle, even as guitars and drums hit hard.
One of Paul’s most powerful moments comes in the hushed ode to her unconditional love for her mother, “You’re Me and I’m You.” Stark acoustic guitar and the softest sweeping of percussion create a perfectly minimalist arrangement to allow for such a profound message to come to the forefront. There is an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude toward those close to her that comes through in the songs on At the Party with My Brown Friends, and it makes us want to hold our lovers closer, too.