Label: Sugar Hill Records
Released: June 12, 2007
Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles do more than just channel the past. True, Diamonds in the Dark is partially images of days gone by, but the package is fresh. Touching on every raw influence of rock music, the end result is an album that is both clean and warm, touching the old, but very much new.
The album centers on Sarah Borges voice which is rich and warm. She can use it across the genres the album touches and her passion is just as clear when she’s subtle as when she’s brash. She has similar qualities to Natalie Merchant, but Borges’ individuality is so strong that the comparison only becomes vividly clear once (on “Modern Trick”). The band is more than just a backup for Borges’ voice. The rhythms can be driving or sublime or anything in between, setting the tone as it changes along the way. The pedal steel plays an integral role throughout, sharing a lot of the understated movement of the vocals and bringing out a lot of the songs’ color.
Diamonds in the Dark clearly digs deep into the core of rock n roll, coming up with rockabilly, blues, soul, bubblegum, country and punk. “The Day We Met” has the punk-edged rockabilly perfected by X (even more than the album’s actual cover of X’s “Come Back to Me”). Punk energy is even more prevalent on the garagey “Diablito” and “Stop and Think It Over” applies that same punk rock edge to 60s pop. Borges pulls off “False Eyelashes” with all the confidence of Dolly Parton’s original and her own restless energy. The pedal steel is just superb on this as well as “Modern Trick.” Even the comparatively average country ballads “Around 9” and “Belle of the Bar” could stand on their own. The album finishes up with another cover, this time Tom Waits’ “Blind Love,” whose sparse echoey slide and rimshots provide the perfect atmosphere for Borges range and control without constraining her.
Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles have produced an album that burns slow and warm with their passion and love, not for the music of the past, but for the roots of the present. There’s a difference between those two, because one is just a revival, but Sarah Borges and company show us that even the roots are still alive and growing today.