album reviews

Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles
The Stars Are Out
Sugar Hill Records (2009)

Kindred spirits: Lucinda Williams, Anne McCue, Kathleen Edwards

It's a tough task to make a lovelorn song by the Magnetic Fields sound even drearier than the original, but Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles certainly do so, turning "No One Will Ever Love You" into a dreamy, regretful send-off. The group's laid-back approach to the song makes a nice counterpoint to the rest of the band's latest album, "The Stars Are Out," which is uptempo alt-country that borders on punk.

Half of "Stars" is devoted to covers, including the group's growling take on NRBQ's "It Comes to Me Naturally" and a sassy version of Smokey Robinson's "Being With You." The band's energy is at its highest on a rowdy cover of Any Trouble's "Yesterday's Love," as Borges's snarling vocals ooze passion and confidence.

As fun as those covers are, Borges most defines her style on her originals, which stand up remarkably well. She channels her inner Joan Jett on the tough-sounding "Do It for Free," while "I'll Show You How" blends a feisty attitude with a twangy sound. "Stars" is full of such bouncy, catchy numbers; the only disappointment is that it ends in less than 35 minutes.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 6 November 2009
.: The Stars Are Out on