Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles
Diamonds in the Dark
First Appeared in The Music Box, February 2008, Volume 15, #2
Written by John Metzger
Mon February 4, 2008, 10:30 AM CST
Considering her love of country, punk, and pop as well as her obvious affinity for Los Angeles’ X, it almost goes without saying that Sarah Borges is tailor-made for Chicago’s Bloodshot Records. How in the world she escaped the label’s line of vision, then, is a mystery that likely will be pondered for years. Regardless, Bloodshot’s loss certainly is Sugar Hill’s gain, and Diamonds in the Dark, Borges’ sophomore set, builds upon the foundation she laid with her debut Silver City while also broadening her appeal.
Throughout Diamonds in the Dark, the chemistry shared by Borges and the Broken Singles, her backing band, is in full bloom, and the set largely is propelled by their unbridled enthusiasm for the material. Much like Neko Case, Borges prefers that her barroom country fare possess a sharp edge, and the Broken Singles never fails to deliver the emotional punch that is needed to seal the deal. Although a sense of sad longing clings to Belle of the Bar, for example, there also is a toughness that arises to mask Borges’ innermost feelings. Elsewhere, the irresistible ebullience of The Day We Met is driven by its bracing, no-holds-barred beat, and Greg Cartwright’s Stop and Think It Over puts the same infusion of punk into Phil Spector’s girl-group pop as The Go-Gos once did. Just as easily, Borges and the Broken Singles is capable of tossing off a perfectly straight cover of Dolly Parton’s False Eyelashes, straddling the line between the Dixie Chicks and the Rolling Stones on Around 9, and wrenching every ounce of bittersweet despair that it can from Tom Waits’ Blind Love.
There’s little doubt that Diamonds in the Dark’s generous assortment of cover songs is an indication that Borges and the Broken Singles still is in the process of sculpting its identity and refining its craftsmanship. Despite its commonplace lyrics, however, the group’s own compositions still manage to fit so neatly among the borrowed tunes, that it clearly is only a matter of time until it can stand on its own, separately from its influences. The fermented bombast and brokenhearted ruminations of Diamonds in the Dark might not be groundbreaking, but sometimes simplicity is the most effective and efficient path to leaving a lasting impression.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box