Sarah Borges tackles some tough issues on "Love's Middle Name." "House on a Hill" is about the aftermath of a dead relationship. "Are You Still Takin' Them Pills" is pretty self-explanatory in nature. The eventually uplifting message of "Grow Wings" starts with the line "This world is too painful for gentle souls, someone like me."
For all that darkness, the album, as is typical of Borges, is still a delight to play. Those songs, as well as the others, are arranged with an absolutely filthy garage rock sound. Borges seems to have found a kindred spirit with producer Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, as the two have teamed up for a laud, raucous, fast and hard-driving gem.
Borges basks in every wrong choice made with the wrong guy in "Let Me Try It," complemented nicely by Ambel's guitar. "Pills" is a slinky blues-rocker that serves almost as a lament to times gone by than a cautionary tale. Then there are the really upbeat numbers like "Lucky Rocks" and "Gone as Gone Can Get"; Borges' vocals stand out over the crashing drums and screeching guitars. While she can handle the quiet, mid-tempo tunes like "Grow Wings" or "I Can't Change It," she is in her natural element fronting a badass rock & roll band.
Borges may not sound like a country singer - she's from Massachusetts, not Nashville - but her songwriting skills are right up there with anyone else in the Americana world. She tackles subjects like heartbreak and sex with equal aplomb, avoiding clichés in arrangements as well as in content. She has a knack for clever turns of phrase - the rattle of a pill bottle turns into the line, "Does your coat still sound like a maraca when you're walkin' up and down around the Tennessee Hills."
There will always be a place for the quiet singer-songwriters who sing meditative pieces on piano or acoustic guitar. Sometimes, though, a couple electric guitars and an up-tempo song about making all the wrong choices are needed, and Borges delivers the goods.