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Black Belt Eagle Scout’s latest album celebrates home

When the 2020 pandemic struck, Katherine Paul, who records as a black belt Eagle Scout, was about to tour to support her burgeoning career.

But when everything shut down, the indie rocker relocated from Portland, Oregon to Washington state’s Swinomish Indian Tribal Community instead. Her latest album, The Land, the Water, the Sky, is out Friday and was inspired by this move.

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Why we wrote this

The pandemic has provided more time to reflect on the spaces we live in. With their latest album, Black Belt Eagle Scout celebrates how their own perspective on a familiar place has changed.

The cover, which features the musician, shows her connection to the lands of her ancestors where she grew up. It is an extended meditation on what makes a true home.

“I love how sparse the music is. There’s this calm confidence,” says Sterlin Harjo, showrunner of hit TV series Reservation Dogs, describing the artist’s style. The show, set on an indigenous reservation, has featured several Black Belt Eagle Scout songs. “She’s a very humble person,” he adds.

This spring, Ms. Paul will tour Europe and parts of North America. And then she returns to the land of Douglas firs and green camas. She feels grounded there.

“Home is just another word for connection and love and family,” says Ms. Paul. “This is where I belong.”

The cover photo of the new Black Belt Eagle Scout album shows a waist-deep woman in Washington’s Puget Sound. The seawater behind her ripples in paisley patterns. A fleet of clouds looks like it has escaped gravity’s last grip. It should be atmospheric.

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“There are waterways and beaches with beautiful rocks and shells,” says Katherine Paul, the Native American indie rocker who records as Black Belt Eagle Scout, of the area. “And then there are our people. Our people are here too.”

The album, her third, debuts Friday titled “The Land, the Water, the Sky.” Ms. Paul is the woman on the cover, representing her connection to the lands of her ancestors where she grew up. The album was inspired by her relocation from Portland, Oregon to Washington State’s Swinomish Indian Tribal Community during the pandemic. It is an extended meditation on what makes a true home.

Why we wrote this

The pandemic has provided more time to reflect on the spaces we live in. With their latest album, Black Belt Eagle Scout celebrates how their own perspective on a familiar place has changed.

“I love how sparse the music is. There’s this calm confidence,” says Sterlin Harjo, showrunner of hit TV series Reservation Dogs, describing the artist’s style. The show, set on an indigenous reservation, has featured several Black Belt Eagle Scout songs. “She’s a very humble person,” he adds.

Black Belt Eagle Scout’s music is often quiet. But her guitar can also roar like a lumberjack’s chainsaw. She initially taught herself to play by studying pirated Nirvana videotapes. After graduating from college in Portland, Ms. Paul stayed in town where she was employed by local music venues who valued her great organizational skills. She also developed her singing craft. Her first two albums “Mother of My Children” (2017) and “At the Party With My Brown Friends” (2019) catapulted her towards indie rock. Then her momentum came to an abrupt halt. The pandemic shattered her first US headlining tour plus shows in Europe.

Black Belt Eagle Scout is on the cover of their latest album. The scene showcases the musician’s connection to the Washington area where she grew up.

“It was devastating, to be honest,” she says via Zoom. But her career woes were eclipsed by worries about her parents’ ill health. She was also newly married to her drummer, Camas Logue, who has two children. Since they couldn’t perform live, money was tight. “I had to think about my family and think about what was important to me,” she says. “Kind of a shift.”

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