Sarah Jane Scouten
"Confessions possesses an almost irresistible draw."
"Sarah Jane Scouten showcases a major talent and a whole lot of versatility."
- No Depression
"An agile voice, ruminative songwriting, and love for classic country, indie pop, and everything in between."
- American Songwriter
"Drawing upon traditional melodies that almost biologically are instantly singable, but combining them with emotions, sentiments and stories that are relatable even now. Stan Rogers was able to do it, Ron Hynes was able to do it, Kate McGarrigle was able to do it –
and Sarah Jane Scouten is able to do it."
- Tom Power, CBC q
2020 Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee - "English Songwriter of the Year"
2018 International Folk Music Award Nominee - "Album of the Year"
2017 Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee - "Traditional Singer of the Year"
2016 Western Canadian Music Award Nominee - "Solo Roots Artist of the Year"
2014 Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee - "Traditional Singer of the Year"
2014 Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee - "Traditional Album of the Year"
Four-time Canadian Folk Music Award nominee, Sarah Jane Scouten is a songwriter of rare quality, combining sounds of early country music, ballad singing, folk rock and 60’s soul. It’s modern indie Americana that knows exactly where it comes from, with confidence and sophistication only bought by time. Surrounding herself with top-notch musicians, the live show is as dynamic as her four (soon to be five) albums: at any moment making feet move or eliciting laughter or tears. She is dry, funny, irreverent yet generous. She has a job to do and she takes it very seriously: to entertain, to inspire and to be cathartic. An ever expanding palette and a warbling iconic country voice – honed over many a campfire – brings a freshness to her brand of ambient indie Americana. It's as relevant today as it is rooted in the music of her forebears.
In early 2020, Sarah Jane was living in rural Scotland, about to embark on an album release tour. Forced to pivot her artistic practice, with her experience as songwriting teacher she created a monthly online workshop series called Songcraft, exploring hand-picked themes in folk and Americana songwriting. She collaborated with indigenous knowledge keepers, songwriters and ethnomusicologists. The workshop was above all a faithfully-attended community gathering for musicians and listeners from Canada, USA, UK, Europe and Asia.
Sarah Jane also found the window to train as a medical herbalist during this time. For years she has had a mounting obsession with medicinal plants and their interactions in the human body, and saw the pandemic as an opportunity otherwise unavailable to her as a busy touring musician. The hedgerows – full of hawthorn, elder, nettles and oak – running through the hills of Dumfries and Galloway, were the perfect classroom for studying native British medicinal plants, as well as making medicine and initiating others into foraging and wild medicine. Sarah Jane combines this deep knowledge with her music by collecting traditional Scottish ballads about medicinal plants (check out all the Francis Child ballads!) and leads herb walks alongside songwriting workshops and concerts.
Raised in a musical family on Bowen Island, British Columbia, Sarah Jane now calls both Scotland and Canada home. The daughter of a Scottish immigrant to Canada, she was raised with ceilidh culture and fiddle music which fed directly into her passion for American old time, country and folk song. Her father played the 5-string banjo while her mother taught Scottish country dancing, and with that she found her way in music through songwriting.
Like any songwriter worthy of the name, Sarah Jane explores love with a fine-toothed comb, but isn't limited to romantic love. Love of a place, a time, the natural world and all its inhabitants tug at her sleeve, which she handles with equal power to delight and break a heart. According to Tom Power of CBC q, "Stan Rogers was able to do it, Ron Hynes was able to do it, Kate McGarrigle was able to do it – and Sarah Jane Scouten is able to do it."