Review by Fred Rudofsky
One of the most beloved bands to ever play the original Club Helsinki (back when it was located in Great Barrington) was Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles from Boston. A talented quartet with a love of roots rock, playing late into the night and hoisting a few pints with the crowd, the band “probably played there more than anywhere else,” according to a mid-set remark by Borges during last week’s opening set for Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real at the current Club Helsinki in Hudson.
In the past two years, a lot has changed in Borges’s life and career. She married her ace guitarist Lyle Brewer, gave birth to a son, and after three excellent studio albums and a live CD/DVD, put the band on hiatus. In the past year, she has been working on a solo album, “Radio Sweetheart,” produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and engineered by Dave Minehan of the Neighborhoods, which is slated for release later this year.
Decked out in a simple white top, fetching black skirt and cowboy boots, Sarah Borges took the stage to an appreciative Thursday night crowd for a solo set on acoustic guitar. With a radiant smile that has earned her the nickname “Gorgeous,” she introduced “On the Corner” casually as “a song about a hooker.” What transpired, though, was a heartfelt narrative by a woman who longs to escape the street and redeem herself if it’s even still possible. Borges’s voice and guitar made for an open-hearted characterization, as it also did for the country-gospel of “I’m Gonna Live the Life I Sing About in My Song.”
“Daniel Lee,” a barnstormer from the Broken Singles, and old favorite “Pious Proud” followed with a stripped down rhythm guitar that highlighted Borges’s plaintive voice. A lady in the audience suggested a happy song, to which Borges asked for examples. Various patrons shouted out song titles and/or bands – one man on the side of the stage shouted out of one of the most raucous, fun-loving bands: “The Faces!” Ever the playful contrarian, Borges sang an excerpt of “Ooo La La” and chided the band’s song about age and hindsight. Laughing, she went right into “The Day We Met,” a song that rocked with optimism about love at first sight.
Closing out her all too brief set, Borges dug deep for the J. Geils Band’s torch song “Cry One More Time.” During intermission, she reunited with fans from the Great Barrington era and chatted with a few new admirers as well, revealing her love for the Figgs, Nick Lowe, Chris Smither and Los Straitjackets, with whom she recently collaborated on a must-have 45 of the Stones’ nugget “Let’s Spend the Night Together.”
Look for more upcoming shows from Sarah Borges – opening for the BoDeans at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock (September 29), and Eilen Jewell at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton (December 1). And perhaps she’ll be appearing with a new incarnation of the Broken Singles in the not too distant future.
SARAH BORGES SET LIST
On the Corner
I’m Gonna Live the Life I Sing About in My Song
The Day We Met
Stop and Think It Over
Cry One More Time Over You (J. Geils)