She's been called a roots-rocker and an Americana artist, but Sarah Borges likes to think of herself and her group simply as "an American rock band."
"That sounds a little bit disingenuous, but I guess what we mean is, there are so many different kinds of music that are indigenous to the U.S.," Borges says over the phone from Cambridge, Mass., while doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. "Rock-and-roll is probably what most people think of, but country music is a big thing, too. . . . We're the sum total of all that."
The 29-year-old spitfire and her band, the Broken Singles, bring together rock and country terrifically on their two albums, 2005's Silver City and this year's Diamonds in the Dark. The latter mixes typically gutsy Borges originals with excellent versions of songs by X, Tom Waits and Dolly Parton. And, something new, there's also a number with a distinct girl-group vibe.
Borges grew up in Taunton, Mass., listening to punk and indie-rock. The country education came when she immersed herself in Boston's fertile roots-rock scene. The singer and songwriter doesn't see a lot of difference between it all.
"They don't seem too far apart to me," Borges says of punk and country. "Most punk-rock songs are three chords, and so are most country songs. And the sentiments are often the same - your life is miserable and you're wishing for something better. . . . Maybe the drums are different and a little faster in punk-rock. We sort of meet in the middle on that."
Borges can knock you out with a barroom ballad as well as a twang-fueled rocker, but as she and the band prepare for their next album, she says, "my ultimate goal is to make a record that's representative of our live show. . . . It's a pretty high-energy event, and there's lots of jumping up and down and audience participation. It's really just a good time for everybody."
Even if the songs aren't always happy ones.
"Sad songs are often the ones that make people want to dance the most. What better way to forget about your troubles?"