Sarah Borges – Caught by the Rain
There’s a long tradition for this. Sarah Borges’ avowed influences, Dolly Parton, X, and Merle Haggard, among others, are shorthand for a post-modern litmus test informing female singer/songwriters every bit as much as their male counterparts do. The old paradigms have fallen. Borges and more immediate forerunners like Lucinda Williams, Maria McKee, and Norah Jones have expanded possibilities for younger women in obvious ways, but there are smaller, less perceptible, shifts. These young women aren’t restricted any longer about whom they pay homage to – we’ve long since passed the point where we crinkle our noses in incredulous bafflement that a beautiful young alt-rock/country singer considers Sid Vicious an influence. The world is open to all of us.
There’s no glimmers of The Sex Pistols creeping through Borges’ latest single, “Caught by the Rain”, but there doesn’t need to be. Like the greatest artists, Borges has internalized her influences to the extent that they are simply unrecognizable when filtered through her own personality. However, one can detect strains of punk rock dissonance in the brief, distorted guitar fills. There are darker currents percolating through the track that never overtake the listener – “Caught by the Rain” seems to simmer with the tension of disaster and collapse kept at bay, if only for a time.
The musicians are keys to this effect. It takes tremendous skill to write and play compositions intended to invoke, at least in part, the suggestion of possible chaos without ever tumbling into disarray. Borges uses musicians who, like filmmakers of a sort, create a tortured and emotional sonic narrative that communicates its mood without ever embodying it. Everything is on point while never playing with soul-crushing stiffness. The drumming, in particular, swings and gives the song much of its musical energy.
It’s impressive to hear how attentive the musicians are to Borges’ voice. The players respond to the multiple peaks and valleys of the vocal melody and supply appropriate passages as counterpoint. Borges’ vocals communicate vast depths of emotion and it’s in no small part thanks to its aching emotion and trembling ability suggest moments of enormous sensitivity, but she likewise holds listeners attention thanks to her care at unifying her voice with the musical backing around her. The lyrical content shows obvious care as well and Borges clearly feels total confidence in interpreting it for her audience.
Few singles this year will impress listeners more. “Caught by the Rain” is a great track for music fans who appreciate entertaining performers sinking themselves deep into a significant musical statement. Even more so, listeners with a sense of traditional will glean an added layer of enjoyment from the experience. There appears to be no appreciable limits on Sarah Borges’ talents. She is an enormous talent with a confidence exceeding her years and clear ambition to burn. “Caught by the Rain” will be a quick favorite for her followers and win over many new converts.
Robert E. Fulford