Sarah Jane Scouten – Celtic Connections – The Glad Cafe – January 24, 2024

Written by on January 26, 2024

Celebration fills the air for SARAH JANE SCOUTEN as this is her first appearance at Celtic Connections.

The Canadian singer-songwriter, now based in Dumfries and Galloway, is in impressive form, overcoming the jetlag caused by an arduous flight from her Bowen Island, West Vancouver homeland to the south side of Glasgow for this engrossing show, one that is full of vibrant memories, hopes, views on matters such as having children and songs that veer joyfully towards contentment and love. It’s a compelling concoction.

She settles on ‘Wanderlust’ as her opener, as it is on her current excellent release, Turned To Gold. It’s a glimpse into her life in Scotland before she dips into her 2017 album, When The Bloom Falls From The Rose, to perform “Acres Of Shells.” This is a delicious, country-tinged look into what you might be able to find in life and cherish.

Remembering her grandmother with great affection is carried sweetly in “The Great Unknown”, also from Turned To Gold, where the joyful and raucous, Wilder When I Was With You, can also be found. It’s a co-write with her Be Good Tanya’s chum, Samantha Parton and is all about carefree, youthful exuberance and frivolity.

The two other tracks taken from Turned To Gold are “Is It Just The Whisky Talking” and the warmly jaunty, “Rose And Carnations,” Sarah Jane’s tribute to John Prine with Robbie Caswell-Jones on the flat top guitar subtly in the mix as he is throughout the 90-minute show.

There’s a crisply appealing vintage folk tone to Black Strap Sadie from The Cape (2014) while her Fred Eaglesmith cover of Wilder Than Her, from his “Drive-In Movie” album, emphasises her ability to seamlessly deliver a sparkling Americana groove.

Support act, Jeri and Ruth – on banjo and fiddle – join in for the encore which is the timeless joy of Kitty Wells’ It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels. The song, written in 1952, clearly triggers Sarah Jane’s love and admiration for old-time music, and women in general. It was suitably raucous and uplifting with an audience singalong.

As Sarah Jane headed home to her village, where she has a herbal medicine practice, she could smile and reflect on dispensing marvellous music, a treat and a tonic to help us all.


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