Sarah Jane Scouten (British Columbia/Québec)
What do Bowen Island and Montreal have in common? One is quiet, serene, and a well established Pacific Northwest fresh air hippie attraction, and the other is a venerable Eurostyle pile of brick-and-stone-charm, smoke and French language. But they both have been home to Sarah Jane Scouten, a Canadian treasure of highly refined and stylized folk music. A hint of Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams and Hank Williams, plus the contributions of three professional instrumentalists, Sarah Frank (fiddle), Luke Fraser (mandolin) and Mathieu Lacombe (bass), create a highly sophisticated folk experience unlike any other.
Raised on a solid musical diet of bluegrass, gospel, and folk, Sarah has been singing around the dinner table with her father from a young age – an intimate setting that she still evokes although her music is much more widely shared today. Scouten was nominated for Traditional Artist of the Year, and her latest release, The Cape , for Album of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards – a testament to her recognizable talents, sweetly unembellished, and unique voice, and her blunt, cheeky and clever songwriting.
Scouten’s musical stories stretch a wide geography: her west coast roots are no less important than the allure she found out east, even having the courage to dust off her language skills and sing en Français; and southern flares spice up her musical palette with Cajun and Creole infusions. No moment is too small or trivial to make it into Scouten’s songs, from the price of a train ticket to taking a moment to feed a bird. The little things, the fun things, the often overlooked things are where Scouten pauses and lingers long enough to find music with depth and beauty.