By SAMANTHA WATSON
Marketing, Ignition Music Garage
As cliché as it may be, absence makes the heart grow fonder couldn’t be a more genuine statement for singer/songwriter Sarah Borges as she embarks on her next musical adventure, the release of her new album, Radio Sweetheart. After a year away from pouring her heart and soul into her music, penning her emotions into powerful lyrics, and leaving it all on the stage during riveting live shows, her love for her craft grew that much stronger.
“After seven years, the Broken Singles had run its course. It was an amicable breakup. After a year, it hit me like a ton of bricks – I didn’t have to stop doing music,” says Borges, who under the name Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles released four critically-acclaimed records (with Blue Corn Music and Sugarhill Records), toured nonstop, and drew praise from the most elitist of music scribes from Rolling Stone, The New York Times, USA Today, Creative Loafing, The Boston Globe, and others.
This time out, the singer/songwriter/guitarist took the more daunting, yet more courageous, route of going it alone. “It’s scary and freeing at the same time to do a record where I don’t have anyone to answer to but myself. A big driving force for this record was to find myself again and remind myself how much I love music after being away from it. I had felt this sense of loss and didn’t realize how integral music was to me,” says Borges, who began her musical journey in musical theater at Emerson College before making a name for herself in the vibrant rock scene of Boston.
The born in Taunton, Mass.-born artist got a boost of confidence when she ran a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for Radio Sweetheart. “I needed $10,000 to make the record and we ended up raising $16,000 in one month. I couldn’t believe it. Donations would come in and there’d be $1,000 from someone I didn’t know, and donations from China. Holy cow! It was heartwarming and it gave me my confidence back,” says Borges, who is newly signed to Booneville, Kentucky-based Lonesome Day Records, home to her frequent touring mates Girls Guns and Glory.
For the past eight years, Boston’s rising stars Girls Guns and Glory have been making a name for themselves through relentless touring (about 200 gigs a year worldwide), the release of four critically acclaimed records, a slew of local awards, including being the Boston Music Awards first act of its genre to win Act of the Year, and international awards (Independent Artist of the Year at the French Country Music Awards). And, now, the hard-working band is refining their focus to the roots of rock ‘n’ roll with a twist of country on their fifth album, Good Luck, released on Feb. 4, 2014, on Lonesome Day Records.
The foursome (Ward Hayden on vocals/guitar, Paul Dilley on electric and upright bass/piano, Josh Kiggans on drums/percussion, and Chris Hersch on lead guitar/banjo) found inspiration for this record from early ’50s rock ‘n’ roll icons such as Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, and Buddy Holly, as well as country greats like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.
The early rock ‘n’ roll inspiration is somewhat of a full circle moment for Hayden. “This style of music was in the house I grew up in,” explains Hayden. “My mom was a fan of the earlier country music and early rock ‘n’ roll, but I didn’t have real taste for it until I was about 20. I had this beat up old Oldsmobile that didn’t have a radio, only a tape deck. My mom would lend me her tapes of Johnny Cash or Hank Williams so I’d have something to listen to. I fell in love with the sound; it was everything I had been looking for.”
Fast-forward to today and GGG is looking back to that era of music for a more rock ‘n’ roll-focused record with producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (Nils Lofgren, Steve Earle, The Bottle Rockets) at the helm. “We were familiar with the work he’d done with Steve Earle and The Bottle Rockets and he was Joan Jett’s original guitarist. Right after we made our fourth record Sweet Nothings in 2011, he heard us on the radio and contacted us, asking about our plans. It’s funny because we had been talking about trying to get in touch with him and there he is calling us out of the blue,” explains Hayden.
It was this serendipitous coming together that really solidified the sound of Good Luck. “One of the ways we really benefited from Roscoe was that he had seen us play live several times and was able to see what the audience reacted to the most,” continues Hayden. “Even though we play a variety of styles of music, he saw that fans really reacted to the more rocking songs. We wanted to focus this album on making more of a straightforward rock ‘n’ roll record that would translate well to the live show and he really helped us accomplish that.”
Borges and GGG will play the Ignition Music Garage in Goshen at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 21. Admission is $20. Visit ignitionmusic.net for tickets and more information.