Scarlett Jane Bring Tour Back To N.B.

It's been an interesting year for Scarlett Jane, since the Toronto duo's first album came out last May. Called Stranger, the release caused an immediate impact on the roots music scene in the country. Backed by a demanding tour schedule, Scarlett Jane went from start-up to one of the most in-demand and loved groups in the indie-folk scene. At a time when most groups would be getting prepared for a follow-up disc, the new music world realities have changed. It turns out the duo are just getting started, with a lot more big plans ahead for both the album and their live shows.

Scarlett Jane has already become a popular draw in New Brunswick, and the duo are just starting a huge series of dates that will see them on the road for months. The shows began last week in Quebec, and they should be crossing the border at any moment to begin the East Coast swing. I caught up with both members after a show in Trois Rivieres earlier. Andrea Ramolo and Cindy Doire were already established solo artists before teaming up. The idea was the old "two is better than one" approach, but with the added benefit of being close amigos. "We amalgamated our fan bases from the get-go," explains Ramolo, "but we came together because we missed each other. We're great friends, we sang on each other's albums. We do everything together now, we share the workload. We share an apartment. We go through two sets of hearts when we write. It's sharing ideas and being creative together. We have each other, there's no doubling up."

Cindy Doire says the friendship has made their songwriting better, too: "We both challenge each other. We push each other, and sometimes one of us is in the fetal position crying. It's not always easy, maybe one has an idea that doesn't match with the other's vision. We've been working on really being open to each other's ideas."

The Stranger album introduced a new blend the pair came up with. The songs have a lot of mystery in them, stories that are sometimes personal, but without all the details spelled out. There are questions unanswered, dark corners hinted at. It even came with a colour scheme, the women often dressed in black, with a nod to pre-rock and roll fashion and beauty. They called it folk-noire. "It's such a cross-over album," says Ramolo. "There are so much genres in it. We draw from roots, old country, folk, rock, all of that is present in our songwriting, no more than each other. It has this sexy edge to it that most folk music doesn't." Doire continues: "We try to write in a way that people can listen to them and personalize them. We want them to take what they need from a song, leave something out that makes it too much information, not too specific, a little vague and mysterious."

So a year later, and the group are ready for phase two in their carefully thought-out plans for Stranger. "This album has really been doing great for us," Ramolo confirms. "It got us a manager, Jake Gold (Tragically Hip, Adam Cohen), it got us a booking agent, there are talks of actually re-releasing it. We've travelled far and wide with it, but the "team" feels that the songs are great, there's lots of life in them."

"It's exactly what we'd hoped for," says Doire. "When we joined forces, we wanted to do some team-building. We said we'd spend a year and work our asses off, and we did. We developed our vision and sound without anybody working with us, and that happened and now we have our team together, which is what we wanted. We wanted to build something solid, we didn't think we'd blow up overnight. I think we're there now, with our sound moulded."

For now, it's back on the road, which they love. "We are kinda workaholics," admits Ramolo. "We love what we do, we're road dogs, we always were on our own careers. This current run we're on is kinda insane, we'll be gone from our apartment for five months."

Scarlett Jane play the Red Herring in St. Andrews Friday and Saturday nights, June 7 and 8, and then head to Plan B in Moncton, Tuesday, June 11.

more »

Latest East Coast Music Reviews

Tomato/Tomato top the awards nominations for Music NB
Tomato/Tomato top the awards nominations for Music NB
Sep 21, 1:15 PM

Saint John folk duo Tomato/Tomato lead the way in this year's nominations for Music New Brunswick awards. The husband-and-wife team has grabbed six nominations, including those for Album of the Year, Group Recording of the Year and Song of the... more »

 Hot Toddy reunion a Harvest highlight
Hot Toddy reunion a Harvest highlight
Sep 20, 6:05 PM

On stage at Fredericton's Playhouse on Saturday, the members of Hot Toddy had more to share than just music. Bass player Tom Easley had brought along a band tour journal that had been kept in the van from 2001-2003, full... more »

Samantha Martin brings exciting blues-gospel vocals to Harvest Fest
Samantha Martin brings exciting blues-gospel vocals to Harvest Fest
Sep 18, 3:58 PM

The Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival is well-known for introducing new, exciting acts to the East Coast that wouldn't normally tour in this area.  They might be from Los Angeles or New Orleans, or some of the best Canadian groups... more »

Steve Hill brings Juno-winning, one-man band to Harvest
Steve Hill brings Juno-winning, one-man band to Harvest
Sep 17, 3:58 PM

As the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival celebrates its 25th year, several favourite acts from the past have been invited back, including some that haven't been around for quite awhile. Even though he lives in Montreal, this year's Juno Award-winning... more »

EARTHBOUND TRIO launches new album at Harvest gig
EARTHBOUND TRIO launches new album at Harvest gig
Sep 16, 3:51 PM

How busy is Fredericton during Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival week? It's delaying some Federal government work, that's how busy. A friend of mine, a government employee from another city, e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago to say she... more »

Amy Helm continuing Dad Levon's legacy at Harvest fest
Amy Helm continuing Dad Levon's legacy at Harvest fest
Sep 15, 3:06 PM

It was a Harvest show that went down as a classic for the people crowding in the Blues tent in 2011. Levon Helm and his great big 13-piece band rolled into Fredericton for the jazz and blues festival, and stole... more »

View all reviews for September 2015 »

About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

Share this review