Twang and burn

Sarah Borges lights a roots-rock fire
By BRETT MILANO  |  January 14, 2008

080118_borges_main
COUNTRY ROCK: Borges covers X and Dolly Parton, and she serves up a few originals that could’ve been done by either.

Sarah Borges, "The Day We Met" (mp3)
When Sarah Borges performs in roots-music hot spots like Nashville and Austin, they don’t ask about her country credentials or her alt-rock background. They just know a great voice when they hear one. 

For Bostonians familiar with her history, however, it’s notable that a former indie-pop singer should have become one of the city’s leading country voices. And if you’ve seen Borges perform, you know that’s even more surprising given how shy and self-effacing she used to be on stage. As the singer/guitarist of Kipper Tin — who played no-glory gigs around town for a good six years — Borges was charming and waifish but gave no clue to the brassy frontwoman she’s become.

You could waste time wondering whether Diamonds in the Dark, her sophomore disc on Sugar Hill, is a country or a rock-and-roll set — suffice to say that it has covers of both X and Dolly Parton plus a few originals that could’ve been done by either. (The radio track, a cover of the Reigning Sound’s “Stop and Think It Over,” is straight-up power pop.) Whatever you call it, this is vital, flesh-and-blood music steeped in barroom sweat and love/sex undercurrents, and a good antidote to the current drony, angst-ridden school of alt-country. Borges’s band — formerly the Confidence Men, now the Broken Singles — are as adept at straight-up twang as Crazy Horse guitar demolitions. Her voice is powerful throughout, but she never shows off her pipes at the expense of a lyric. Making a quick home-town stop between a run of tour dates, she and the Singles hit the Lizard Lounge this Friday and Saturday.

Over coffee at Carberry’s in Cambridge a week ago last Monday, Borges pondered her transformation. “I don’t feel any differently about myself; but I’ve gotten better at telling people about myself. I used to be afraid I’d make too many mistakes. Now I make tons of mistakes, but I know how to make them work. I learned a lot with Kipper Tin — I learned how not to talk between songs; I learned not to drink too much beer beforehand.” And the change in musical styles? “The crux of indie rock is that you’re supposed to be witty, you’re supposed to use metaphor. Not that I don’t love that kind of music, but my voice is a little better for what I’m doing now. It’s a thin line anyhow — I’ve always loved X, and they were partly a country band. And Chuck Berry has enough twang that he’d probably get considered country.”

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: Rock n' Roll saves the day, Citadel of sound, Backwoods Barbie, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Entertainment, Music, New Music Releases,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY BRETT MILANO
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   REVIEW: DON'T STOP BELIEVIN': EVERYMAN'S JOURNEY  |  March 04, 2013
    There's no sex or drugs, just a lot of professionalism.
  •   WALTER SICKERT LEADS A BAND OF MUSICAL MISFITS  |  February 05, 2011
    When Walter Sickert and his Army of Broken Toys played an official First Night show at the Hynes Auditorium on New Year's Eve, they ran overtime and the soundman pulled the plug — which isn't quite the smartest way of shutting down an acoustic band.
  •   GUIDED BY VOICES RETURN WITH SELF-INFLICTED NOSTALGIA  |  November 07, 2010
    When Guided by Voices announced their reunion tour this year, it marked a milestone of sorts for the Dayton band. This is arguably the first conventional career move they've ever made.
  •   DANDO AND HATFIELD REKINDLE A MUSICAL COURTSHIP  |  November 01, 2010
    Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield were never a serious couple, and they never played music together for very long.
  •   REVIEW: ROCK OF AGES  |  October 12, 2010
    At the start of the hair-metal musical Rock of Ages (at the Colonial Theatre through October 17), narrator Lonny (Patrick Lewallen) promises a night of sexy decadence and general kick-assery.

 See all articles by: BRETT MILANO