Monday, February 11, 2008

My Thoughts: Sarah Borges, "Diamonds in the Dark"

To the discerning country/roots-rock fan: You need to listen to Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles. I recently got the new CD "Diamonds in the Dark" from this local artist, and I love it almost as much as Lucinda's "Car Wheels on Gravel Road". You get youthful vitality in place of world-weary wisdom, and it sounds so good. Sarah's second CD rocks with ample steel guitar that goes way south of Taunton, MA and rolls without smoothing out all of the edges.

I was struck by her beautiful vocals on every track from beginning to end. The party starts with "The Day We Met" and it's bouncy riff & rockabilly twang. It's a great joyous song, because it conveys the thrill of new love and doesn't get sappy. You could even sing it to your significant other (but it's so much better from Borges).

The first of the handful of covers is "Come Back To Me" by X, which is almost unrecognizable to a fan of the L.A. punk band like myself. The next tune is "Stop and Think It Over" written by Memphis garage-rockers Reigning Sound, and Mary Weiss (formerly of 60's girl-group The Shangri-Las) also covered this on her recent album where the song sounds like it doesn't have the power to get out of the slow lane. On the other hand, Sarah really gives it the gas behind the wheel of this power-pop nugget.

She goes Nashville big-time on Dolly Parton's "False Eyelashes" whose tale of an up-n'-coming singer might fit Sarah -- for the time being. On every one of these songs, Borges and band take control and make it their own; none more so than on the closing number, "Blind Love" from Tom Waits. This recording has a such a sensitivity and original approach, you might think Sarah wrote this tender ballad. I didn't recognize it as the "Rain Dogs" lament until the end of the first chorus.

I shouldn't even mention that the swinging blues number "Open Up Your Back Door" was once a gritty track by Canned Heat. (How many people besides me even know who they are?!?)

Of the other originals, I especially love the noir-country of "Modern Trick"; I'm a sucker for a steel guitar making those 'lonesome road' moans over great chords and around the lyrics' great imagery of taking control of one's life like manipulating various media. It's one creepy remix away from a David Lynch soundtrack.

While I doubt Sarah Borges was ever as forsaken as the "Belle Of The Bar", but it's a cool song that again doesn't fall over into exaggeration. There's a good range of tempo and temperment from the contemplative "Around 9" to the upbeat "Lord Only Knows" and rockin' "Diablito" that will keep your attention. Likely to be an album that will stay in your CD player for a long time, if you still do that sort of thing...

She'll definitely be on a lot more iPods and stereos as the months roll by, so I encourage you to get on board now. By the end of the year, Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles could be riding high on the charts if there's any justice in the world. Fans of artists like Lucinda Williams, Rosanne Cash, Neko Case, The Jayhawks, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dwight Yoakam -- heck, The Flying Burrito Brothers -- etc. will dig this.

AND she's bringing her charming stage presence to the Natick Center for Arts ($15+, maybe less?) on SAT 2/23. Slightly more than $10, so maybe she's getting too big to play at the smaller Cambridge venues; I'll let you know if she does. BTW, her first CD is pretty awesome too.

Check out the cool retro/modern video for "Stop and Think It Over":

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