Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles: The Stars Are Out

SarahBorges_TheStarsAreOutBewitching rock, girl-group and indie pop

Sarah Borges has always been one of Sugar Hill’s most surprising roster artists. Her 2007 label debut, Diamonds in the Dark, harbored some atmospheric steel moans, but the chewy pop center of Borges girl-group, and rockabilly was so citified as to be virtually unrelated to the typical Sugar Hill string band. Her covers of X (“Come Back to Me”) and Tom Waits (“Blind Love”) mated effortlessly with the exuberant Lesley Gore-styled vocals of Greg Cartwright’s “Stop and Think it Over,” a convincing take on Hank Ballard & The Midnighter’s bawdy “Open Up Your Back Door” and the country “False Eyelashes.” Perhaps it’s the latter, originally recorded by Dolly Parton in 1968, that gives Borges the imprimatur of a Sugar Hill artist, but it was also the album track that least fit her vocal gifts.

This follow-up album roars from the gate with even less intention to sound country; the opening “Do It For Free” pounds out Joan Jett-styled guitar, bass and drums as Borges lasciviously anticipates a post-show hook-up, and make-up sex fuels the wailing harmonica garage stomper “I’ll Show You How.” There’s Rockpile- and Stones-styled roots rock and even a couple of modern pop arrangements, but the album truly soars when Borges holds forth with updated twists on a girl-group that brings to mind Josie Cotton’s Convertible Music. The bouncy, Beatle-blue harmony of Any Trouble’s “Yesterday’s Love” brightens the original’s Elvis Costello-styled lament into chiming desire, and the double-tracked vocal and baritone guitar of the original “Me and Your Ghost” will have you turning up the volume on your iPod like it’s a push-button radio in a ’65 Falcon.

As on Diamonds in the Dark, the song list is split evenly between originals and covers. An earthy take on the Magnetic Fields’ “No One Will Ever Love You” translates the original’s anger and disappointment from pulsating keyboards to deeply twanging guitar. The Lemonheads’ “Ride With Me” and NRBQ’s “It Comes to Me Naturally” are good fits, though not revelations, and Smokey Robinson’s “Being With You” is uninspiring. Additional originals include the lightly psychedelicized Americana “Better at the End of the Day” and the moody closer, “Symphony,” mates a drum machine with warm strings. Borges voice holds the album’s variety together, but she and the band sound most vital when they take it up tempo and girlishly sweet. Don’t let the Sugar Hill tag mislead you; this is an excellent album of pop and rock with only a few undertones of country and Americana. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | Better at the End of the Day
Listen to “Do It For Free”
Sarah Borges’ Home Page
Sarah Borges’ MySpace Page

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.