Who says you have to follow one style? On their sophomore album, Diamonds in the Dark, Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles combine hints of country, rockabilly, blues and rock. It's a formula that works -- instead of sounding like some kind of mix tape, Borges' vocals remain a constant and the music's tone is the tie that binds.
"This record was really a product of us being on tour a lot to support the last record," Borges says by phone from her Massachusetts home. "We learned how to play together as a band a lot better. The first record was me kind of writing a bunch of songs and then finding people to play them. This one was borne out of us getting to know each other musically and personally. It's a pretty accurate representation of what we're like as a band and also what the live show's like."
The band's live show is where it thrives and appears to have the most fun. Don't be surprised if they're jumping up on tables or creating a stir when the music pace quickens. "We can climb on top of the bar and stuff -- you can't really do that during a weeper," Borges says. "Actually, you could do that during a weeper if you were going to commandeer the whiskey, but you'd really have to think that out before you get caught."
The one thing the band has no problem getting a hold of is fans. They're steadily building an increasing fan base around the country with their hometown buzz in Boston at a fever pitch. This time around, the band will make its first stop in Louisiana.
"It's always a little daunting to play in a city we've never been to, but we're lucky enough to have a label that's a pretty good size behind us," Borges says of Sugar Hill Records. "At least most times, (the cities) know that we're coming ..."
Her band's sound may elicit thoughts of the South more than something from north of the Mason Dixon, but Borges is quick to point out a thriving roots music scene in Massachusetts. She also notes that her bandmates are from the South, which may add to the music's flavor. It's not every day that you hear pedal steel in rockabilly or blues.
"It's always been in our band -- right from the beginning," she says. "It's gotten to the point where I write songs with that sound in my ear. It just sounds so pretty. Mike (Castellana) is starting to use it with a distortion pedal or like you'd use an electric guitar and it makes for some pretty, weirdo things."
Borges says if the band were just starting out now, they'd probably just be known as The Broken Singles. In the early days, she would write songs and then go find people to play them. These days, there is more of a collaborative effort in the writing process, though Borges still takes the lead.
They're getting ready to start work on their third album, which Borges hopes will be finished by late summer or early fall. "We thought about the last two and Diamonds in the Dark is definitely representative of what we are as a band -- personality-wise and taste-wise," she says. "It's kind of a summary of all of our record collections put together because we lived together for years now. I think our goal is to make it as energetic and live sounding as coming to see us at a show."
Her songwriting tends to follow more of a story line. She recently wrote a song with the band about meeting people at a party -- "a '50s, bossa nova, cocktail party kind of song." She usually has an idea written out before approaching the band to fill in the blanks and little details. However, she notes that every once in a while the band will write something during a practice and "flesh it out there, too."
Her songwriting has changed over the years. What started out as indie rock -- "You can say whatever the heck you want because it doesn't have to rhyme or make sense" -- has changed to something more personal. Which also adds to the pressure.
"The lyrics are the hardest part," Borges says. "There's totally the potential that someone's gonna laugh at you. People don't tend to laugh as much at a chord progression as they do at really stupid lyrics."
Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles will perform at The Evening Muse on March 4 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.