The solo project of Portland-based musician Katherine Paul, Black Belt Eagle Scout earned critical praise for the eerie introspective indie rock on her 2018 debut, Mother of My Children. Raised on the Swinomish Indian Reservation north of Seattle, Paul has publicly gone to bat as a champion of minority causes, proudly identifying herself as a "radical indigenous queer feminist." An adept singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, hers is a refreshing voice among indie rock's classically white populace, a position she cheekily alludes to on her sophomore set, At the Party with My Brown Friends. Having based much of her debut on personal catharsis, loss, and declaration of self, Paul's follow-up takes a softer approach, moving past tumult into everyday concerns of friendship, family, and love. Musically, it's a more robust affair, eschewing the lonesome lo-fi tones of her early output and embracing a thicker, albeit dreamier sound to frame her thoughtful musings. The yearning "My Heart Dreams" and "Scorpio Moon" are awash in rich colors with interesting sonic textures growing like moss underneath Paul's hushed vocals. The wistful Casio-toned "Going to the Beach with Haley" literally describes a carefree coastal road trip with friend and fellow songwriter Haley Heynderickx, its pulsing wavelets building steadily into a mid-song crest of melodic fuzz guitar before backing gently down. The spare acoustic "You're Me and I'm You" celebrates Paul's deep spiritual connection with her mother, closing out the album with the warm refrain, "I am the one, the one she loves, she is the one, the one who loves me." Neither as radically charged or emotionally turbulent as her debut, At the Party is still an engaging listen whose charms come by way of connection and compassion rather than discord.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger