Sarah Borges — Silver City (2005)

Silver City is a hidden gem plucked from the morass of the CD giveaway at the music magazine where I used to work. At the end of the month the editorial crew would send out a cattle call and pile on all the albums that they hadn’t kept for the company library, kept for themselves, traded in to Amoeba Records, used to prop up the corner of a coffee table, used for skeet shooting (in the traditional sense of the word), or anything they could possibly think of doing with them before calling in the troops.

As an independent musician who sent out hundreds of promos myself, it was always a sobering and slightly depressing sight to see all the hopes and dreams of a hundred singers, players, producers, and designers lumped together on a break table one step away from a landfill. It got to the point that I couldn’t show up for the giveaways, but on one of my last trips to the trough I snagged Boston-based alt-country artist Sarah Borges’s first album. I decided to quit while I was ahead.

From the first reverb-drenched track—a slow burner swampier than Daniel Lanois’s underwear—her sultry mix of rock and high lonesome vocals demands your attention while it breaks your heart. Borges is backed up by a crack rhythm section borrowed from fellow Bostonian Jake Brennan’s band The Confidence Men, while a trio of guitar slingers made up of Mike Castellana, Steve Malone, and Russell Chudnofsky, trade off on pedal steel, slide, and lead guitar.

Borges has an ear for a hook and in what would have been a huge radio hit if such things still existed, Borges bemoans the loss of beau Daniel Lee who has apparently got her down and hard up. Her songwriting explores the dark side of relationships gone sour and dreams long marinated in whiskey. In an inspired choice of covers, Borges sings Tommy Dorsey’s I’m Going To Live The Life I Sing About In My Song sounding like she’s already been at it for a while.

Silver City was recorded and mixed by Boston perennial Paul Q. Kolderie who produced two defining alt-country albums, Uncle Tupelo’s No Depression and Still Feel Gone. Borges fits right in, bridging the gap between punk rock and honky-tonk. With a little time and trial Borges’s talent is sure to mature to be on a par with fellow female badass Lucinda Williams. She’ll soon be singing goodbye to the giveaway bin.

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