INTERVIEW:  Sarabeth Tucek On “Joan Of All.”

SBT – Echoes Through Time

In the wake of her appearance on Bill Callahan’s acclaimed album “Supper” and her notable role in the Brian Jonestown Massacre documentary ‘DiG!’, singer-songwriter Sarabeth Tucek released her debut single “Something For You”. This was swiftly followed by a self-titled debut album, which garnered rave reviews in the press. She enjoyed unwavering support from new music champions such as Marc Riley on BBC Radio and even supported the legendary Bob Dylan on tour, who was an ardent admirer of her work. Her universally acclaimed second album, “Get Well Soon,” offered a raw and emotionally charged meditation on grief and loss. However, after a period of touring, she vanished from the scene. Now, following a ten-year musical hiatus, she makes a triumphant return with a new double album entitled “Joan of All,” released under her nickname SBT. It’s an ambitious and expansive musical journey, effortlessly intertwining the timeless familiarity of classics with the contemporary spirit of the present. Yet Sarabeth hadn’t consciously planned on retreating from music for a decade.

“I don’t think I had a plan. I am not the most disciplined writer,” she explained. “But, this period of time away was a pretty transitional time for me. I had a lot to figure out for the next chapter of my life, which I guess is called middle age. I had to really understand how to live better and how to take better care of myself. I was looking for a line of work that would give me healthcare. I was trying to figure out the question of motherhood. To have a child or not. And that was very difficult. I was trying to learn how to stay in one place. Practical and existential challenges.”

Despite a decade’s absence from releasing music, the prospect of creating anew did not daunt Tucek; rather, her concern centred on connecting with today’s audience. “I think music has changed quite a bit in the last ten years. I wasn’t sure if I could find any space. There is so much music out there. There must be more than ever.”

For Tucek, the writing process flourished during the lockdown. “That was probably the greatest time in my life. To have all that uninterrupted time. The pandemic was obviously awful for a lot of human beings and I feel guilty saying that I kinda had the best time of my life…but I did. The world stopped, and I was able to be myself. It just seemed like we should have some time like that once a year. Let the animals and nature be. Let everyone retreat to their corners and lick their wounds.” It was undeniably a creatively fertile period for Tucek. “I didn’t think about the double album thing. I just had to have all these songs together. It’s a long record, but it needed to be, and the people who need it will find it and won’t have a problem sitting still for an hour.” It’s certainly an album to spend time with to feel the ebb and flow, and follow its detours, which is apposite given that the theme of the album is about “time” as Tucek explains “it’s looking at time. What it is to make it through a moment. How much there is in one moment. Trying to stay in the moment but being called back or forward. The majesty of the ordinary and everyday. Dogs. It’s my life thus far.”

This exploration of temporal shifts and the sensation of being pulled from one moment to the next is touched on, albeit obliquely in the album’s title, “Joan Of All.” Tucek clarifies, “Here was my thought process. Armor. Do I feel like I have more armor (metaphorically speaking) now or less? Which is better? Then I thought of Joan of Arc and her challenges and then I thought about being middle-aged. The middle ages. Then I thought about my mother, who is the most interesting and mysterious woman I know and her name is Joan. My second title choice was The Middle Ages.”

Having previously collaborated with Ethan Johns and her longtime partner Luther Russell, Tucek played a more substantial role in production this time, closely working with Russell.“It was very different this time around. I co-produced and put a lot into every detail. Every sound and its placement. I had a lot more confidence this time around. I could hear it all in my head.”

After over a decade away from the realm of releasing records, Tucek has undeniably noticed how the industry has shifted. “Well, there’s just no way around social media now. Artists seem to make their careers through it/with it. The person and personality seem to be just as, if not more, important than the actual art. It’s become tribal in a different way. Now people think they know or could maybe be friends with the artist. It’s weird. I feel an enormous amount of pressure to utilise social media for my music, but I really don’t want to. It embarrasses me.”

So, has Tucek reignited her passion for creating music? Can we expect more recordings sooner in the foreseeable future? “Well, I hope so,” she responds, “but who knows? I usually make music because I need to hear myself say/sing something to myself, so hopefully I will continue to want to hear from myself in the years to come. I could very well just go tell myself to stuff it.”

You can catch Sarabeth on tour HERE including a local date at Jimmy’s in Liverpool on September 8th
Ticket link below

Read our 2011 interview with Sarabeth HERE

Joan of All is available – HERE


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