Twang and burn

By BRETT MILANO  |  January 14, 2008

She moved into country gradually, at first stepping up to do a few songs with her boyfriend Jake Brennan’s band. She and Brennan wound up settling into a Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds–type arrangement, sharing the band and swapping the frontperson role. (Brennan recently got a gig in video production, so he’s putting music on the back burner for now, though he played on Borges’s disc and co-wrote one track.) And when she started writing for the Confidence Men, she approached it methodically: “It was like I went to the library and read all the books, then I wrote my own. You have your palette to work with: there’s drinking, religion, somebody losing someone. Then you find your own way into the genre, and I think the new disc reflects that. Songwriting to me has no logic to it. Sometimes I feel like a scientist: ‘Is the lighting right, am I sitting in the right chair?’ But you can’t force it to happen. And that’s definitely on my mind now that we’re starting to think about a third record.”

She doesn’t fancy herself a confessional songwriter, however, so don’t peruse the lyrics for clues about her personal life. The new disc’s opener, “The Day We Met,” is one of the giddier love songs in recent memory (“The day we met should be a holiday”), but it was written under mundane circumstances. “Fifteen minutes while the football was going on in the living room. It was your basic ‘sit down and write’ job, and the cliché is that happy love songs are the hardest ones to write. But there was no happy emotion coursing through my veins at that point.” The closest thing to a personal song, she notes, is “Belle of the Bar,” on which the fiddle and brushed drums conjure a closing-time mood. “You’re the good-time girl that everybody wants to hang out with, but nobody wants to make an honest woman of you. I think I was fully that when I was 25 [i.e., five years ago], and I put the age into the song.”

As a former high-school actor, she has a preference for dramatic-monologue-type songs that don’t necessarily match her own life. So she essays Dolly Parton’s world-weary “False Eyelashes,” even if she enjoys the spotlight a lot more than Parton’s heroine did. And the X song she does, “Come Back to Me,” is likely Exene Cervenka’s most difficult one, written after she lost her sister (though Borges treats it more as a break-up song). She got the stamp of approval at a recent Nashville show when she found the stage crashed by John Doe, even though the two had never met. “He scared the bejeezus out of me. At first I thought he was one of those crazy guys that jump on stage, so my first impulse was to whack him.”

That wasn’t even the wildest show she’s played. On a recent Southern stop, one fan who really wanted her attention ate a couple of her tour buttons. And there was a show in Providence where she knocked herself with a guitar before going on stage and went on with half a front tooth. “That took care of my appearance for the night. Though we had a couple of weirdo guys who thought it was hot.”

SARAH BORGES | Lizard Lounge, 1667 Mass Ave, Cambridge | January 18-19 | 617.547.0759

< prev  1  |  2  | 
  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