The Land, The Water, The Sky

The Land, The Water, The Sky

It’s hard to listen to Katherine Paul’s third album as Black Belt Eagle Scout without thinking about nature, not because of Paul’s lyrical signposts—salmon, stars, wind, rivers—so much as the texture of the music itself. Recorded in a converted church in Anacortes, Washington, near the Swinomish Reservation on which Paul grew up, The Land, The Water, The Sky captures the mix of ruggedness and ethereality that makes the Pacific Northwest so unusual, whether it’s the way the chants of “My Blood Runs Through This Land” float over its drums like fog over a pounding tide, or how the distant soprano saxophone of “Treeline” surfaces like a figure from the mist. Beautiful music, no doubt, but never so beautiful that it transcends the garage-band intimacy. Case in point: “Fancy Dance,” a reminder that no matter how far our thoughts might take us, we still belong to our bodies, and our bodies to the land.

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