Sarah Borges’s unbridled joy at making music two decades into a storied career comes through loud and clear in her latest long player, aptly titled “Love’s Middle Name.” Her third studio record with The Broken Singles, “Love’s Middle Name” is a muscular 10 song cycle that pulses with raw, gritty, unfettered emotion. As the kids like to say: this record has all the feels.
Conduct even a quick Google search, and you’ll find that Sarah has been dubbed everything from an Americana darling, to a roots rocker, to a cowpunk by tastemakers as diverse as The New York Times and Sirius XM Outlaw Country Radio. With this latest release Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles show that all of those titles are well deserved.
Sounds that are gleaned from inspiration ultimately create a sound that inspires others. It’s a continuum that’s at the core of great music, music that exists for the ages and not merely within transitory circumstance. Indeed, Boston-based singer-songwriter Liz Frame knows this all too well. She was weened on the music of her parents’ generation, absorbing the influence of their heartland heroes -- immortal and iconic artists like Jimmie Rogers, The Weavers, B.B. King and Elvis Presley, to name but a few. It became deeply rooted in her musical psyche, so much so that she began writing her own music at the tender age of nine, and after picking up her first guitar at fourteen, it found her performing in front of audiences while still in her early teens. Not surprisingly, her music of choice was honest, unbridled Americana, a sound that continues to represent the disparate styles that captured her imagination so early on.
Backed by her band, The Kickers -- Pat Chamberlin on lead guitars, Sean Hennessy on bass and Peter Whitehead on drums -- Frame continues to write and perform with seemingly nonstop energy and enthusiasm. Yet it was the death of her beloved mother in 2007 that turned her focus entirely to her craft. Sooner, her full length debut, appeared in 2011 and featured a stellar line-up consisting of some of New England’s finest sessions players, among them Duke Levine, Kevin Barry and Bobby Keyes. Frame’s follow-up, the Justine EP, was released three years later and confirmed the savvy and intellect so evident the first time around. Moreover, it affirmed the fact that Frame is a fine front woman, a singer who possesses not only a cool confidence, but also an ideal blend of soul, sophistication and sensuality. The edge and deliberation inherent in “A Good Day to Say Goodbye,” the strains of bluegrass echoed in the title track, the restraint and remorse woven into “I Don’t Wanna Let You Go,” and the emotional, evocative finale, “The Secrets I Been Keeping” spotlight the band’s power and potential.
Fortunately, their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. They’ve found their way into the choicest venues as they’ve worked their way from New England to the mid Atlantic, attracting rave notices along the way. Some critics have compared her singing to Patsy Cline and Linda Ronstadt, while others have noted similarities in her songwriting to the work of Dolly Parton and Lucinda Williams. At the same time, Frame and her colleagues have developed synergy with like-minded contemporaries as well, among them, Grammy Award winning producer and engineer Ducky Carlisle, and guitarist Stan Martin, a former member of the popular honky-tonk combo John Lincoln Wright.
Tradition -- especially as it applies to Americana realms -- is something to cherish and admire. It takes both respect for one’s predecessors and the resolve to move those lessons forward to make a mark and create a lingering impact overall. Liz Frame and the Kickers have an ample supply of each, all the more reason to suspect that ongoing success can be assumed to be all but assured.
Writer/reviewer for American Songwriter, No Depression, New Times, Country Standard Time, Blurt, Relix, and M Music and Musicians