Today, Canadian folk/country artist Sarah Jane Scouten shares her rugged, nostalgic fourth studio album Turned to Gold, out everywhere now. Alongside the full, optimal roadtrip soundtrack album is a short film that dissects the project and Scouten's life as an herbalist living in Southwest Scotland here as well as track "Crocodile Tears" out now. Plus, Sarah Jane Scouten officially announces a fall tour across Canada, parts of the UK and Dublin with tickets on sale now via sarahjanescouten.com.
The creation of Scouten's road-trip-salt-air filled fourth studio album Turned to Gold, out today, inspired her to continue to pursue music professionally. Before 2020, she was burned out and knew that it wouldn't do herself, the music, or the audience any justice to continue. By March 2020, she planned to become a medical herbalist and let her music career fade away. It was through this process she came back to songwriting, but this time, with more perspective and clarity.
Scouten shares, "I’ve been galvanised by certain experiences and found the vulnerability to write about them. Thinking back on my songwriting I feel like the death doula of songwriters and certainly there are some songs on 'Turned to Gold' that go there. Learning therapeutic skills, I’m better equipped to hold space for people who connect to my songs in intense ways." The intimate, cathartic collection spans the vast spectrum of human emotions–wading through darkness and finding much needed light and unapologetic joy.
Producer Johnny Payne calls Scouten a "true artist" and "a joy to produce." Taking listeners into the moments behind the music, Payne adds, "We built her a little vocal room within the studio room so that she could dance while she sang without being seen. But sometimes, during certain poses, her arms would peek over the top of the walls as she performed. Those were usually the best takes." True to form, Payne says on breaks, Scouten would urban forage for herbs in the fields and gardens of East Vancouver.
Today, Scouten has found her love of herbal medicine has deeply nourished her artistry and the person she has become. Scouten continues, "Herbal medicine has become a part of me and something I do alongside music, in the same way some artists are carpenters, graphic designers or instrument makers. Sometimes the things we do outside of music makes us better and more intriguing as artists. I’d like to think this applies to my music."
Join Scouten as she takes listeners behind the scenes on the making of Turned to Gold, and brings listeners into her life in Scotland. Made in May 2023, filmmakers Thomas Dibb and Mark Lewis with Northern Cowboy Films were swiftly charmed by Scouten's village of Moniaive, Ireland and began to dig deep into the album making process with Scouten providing a tour and earnest narration of the album's themes and inspirations. Filled with pride for the film and a project that is a culmination of her life in the last several years, Scouten is thrilled with the results and enjoyed collaborating with the filmmakers. Scouten says, "They also knew how to draw a story out of me and take beautiful images. It seems like they captured a threshold in my life, stepping out of the last four years of intense study back into my life as a musician, but more grown up and fortified by my experiences."
The slow-grooving track "Crocodile Tears," also out today, emerged when Scouten had a strange experience teaching music to nine year olds on Valentine's Day. When singing Elvis' "Can't Help Falling In Love," one by one, each child started bursting into tears and running out of the classroom, overcome with emotion. Scouten explains, "It seemed like mass psychosis and the teacher and I could only laugh. Eventually the stragglers who weren't overcome with emotion started forcing tears and acting the same way as the other students." Later that night, she wrote "Crocodile Tears" inspired by these nine year old pretenders. Scouten says the track, "draws on my love of Cajun music and traveling in Louisiana and definitely a few ex-boyfriends who weren't always honest about their feelings."
The recently released "Wanderlust," is a guitar-driven, upbeat track that explores the difficulty of making a choice to live on one's own terms, and how that sometimes comes with sacrifice. The choice to move far from home and pursue music posed its own unique set of challenges, and the track out today delves into the idea that beauty and pain can co-exist. Scouten reveals, "For me, that meant leaving my family to follow the compulsive drive to write songs and sing them. Being a musician can be detrimental to your mental and physical health, let alone your relationships to loved ones and even yourself." Though it can be difficult, Scouten recognizes the rare opportunities she's had as a musician, allowing her to see the world, and eventually, meet her husband and move across the world. Scouten adds, "These things made my life beautiful but not without sorrow and regret."
Taking listeners into the making of the song, Scouten explains, "I wrote this song like an American old-time ballad–that’s why it has that modal, major/minor feel. There were originally 9 verses." After producer Johnny Payne said it needed a refrain, one of the verses turned into what ultimately became the song's message, “Nothing comes from nothing and nothing will/But nothing works for the hurt to kill.” Scouten continues, "That made sense to me, that was kind of the thesis statement of the song. You reap what you sow, for better or worse."
The previously shared bright, spirited "Dragonheart," is a play on Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ song "Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around," with the pun very much intended. Scouten shares the track is, "part Tolkien, part Tom Petty, and part 1996 fantasy movie starring Dennis Quaid and Sean Connery by the same title. It’s so much fun and not in the least bit serious."
The first taste of the project arrived with the nostalgia-soaked "Wilder When I Was With You," a track that captures the joy and freedom of growing up and getting in trouble. Co-written with Samantha Parton of The BeGood Tanyas, who also grew up on the West Coast of Canada, the track took shape after a short voice memo Parton sent Scouten of the hook, and takes listeners into Scouten's own laid-back summer nights, driving in old cars and sitting in rowboats under the stars.
Sarah Jane Scouten has three full-length albums under her belt, with the first arriving in 2014 titled The Cape. After a string of singles, her sophomore effort came in 2017 with When The Bloom Falls From The Rose, and in 2019, solidified her place in the folk/country scene with the intimate portrait of her life, Confessions. Tastemakers have taken notice of Scouten's unique ability to captivate listeners and transcend genres. The Boot called 2017's "Bang, Bang," "A rollicking, uptempo track with a retro feel and just the right amount of twang and blues influence." Exclaim! praised the musician's remarkable songwriting adding, "Scouten's songs offer honest, poignant and at times humorous lyrics that reveal the artist's personal insight and knack for storytelling."
Scouten has been nominated for 4 Canadian Folk Music Awards, a Western Canadian Music Award and an International Folk Music Award. She has performed at Vancouver Folk Music Festival, MerleFest, Calgary Folk Music Festival, Salmon Arm Roots and Blues, Dranouter Festival, Maverick Americana Music Festival and more. She has opened for Corb Lund, William Prince, Ron Sexsmith, The Sadies and shared the stage with Martha Wainwright, The Strumbellas, Allison Russell, Martin Carthy, Mandolin Orange (Watchhouse) and more. As CBC’s Tom Power noted, "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."
Now in 2023, Scouten is ready to invite listeners back into her ever-growing carefully crafted, warm sonic universe. Filled with intimate portraits of the human experience, Scouten offers a place of refuge, reflection and peace using soothing vocals and the serene strum of an acoustic guitar. Bringing new colors and brush strokes to folk-Americana, Scouten paints the human condition in an all new light, one that is all her own. Plus, Scouten will take the new music and longtime fan favorites on the road this fall across Canada, the UK and Dublin with tickets on sale now here.
Sarah Jane Scouten's much anticipated sweet, nostalgia-soaked fourth studio album, Turned to Gold, is out everywhere now alongside the album's accompanying short film here. Experience Sarah Jane Scouten live this fall across Canada and select cities in the UK with a stop in Dublin. Tickets are on sale now here. Connect with Sarah Jane Scouten on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube and stay tuned for more from the folk/country musician.
Sarah Jane Scouten Live 2023
Sept. 29 - Powell River, BC - Cranberry Community Hall
Sept. 30 - Nanaimo, BC - Harbour City Concerts
Oct. 5 - Salt Spring Island, BC - Mateada Lounge
Oct. 12 - Toronto, ON - Burdock
Oct. 13 - Toronto, ON - Folk Music Ontario
Oct. 19 - Mayne Island, BC - 44 Collective
Oct. 20 - Fanny Bay, BC - Fanny Bay Community Association
Oct. 21 - Gabriola Island, BC - Gabriola Island Community Hall
Oct. 22 - Campbell River, BC - Rivercity Stage
Oct. 26 - Vancouver, BC - Green Auto Body
Nov. 11 - Dumfries, UK - The Stove Cafe
Nov. 16 - Limavady, UK - Roe Valley Arts Centre
Nov. 19 - Dublin, IRE - Whelan's