Half Notes: Mia Borders, "Try Me On" (2010)

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Dominated by a dreamy wah-wah from guitarist Kyle Sclafani, Mia Borders’ “Try Me On” initially brings to mind all of the big-hat-wearing, too-tall-bootsy joys of 1970s funk. When her lyric, which starts out sexy and tough, gives way to Adam Matasar’s throwback turn on the Fender Rhodes, the lava-lamp lightning is juuuust right. Yet “Try Me On” — found on her 2010 release Magnolia Blue, from Blaxican/Hypersoul Records — never falls into caricature. Reason: the New Orleans-based Borders has a jazz singer’s cadence, but she writes (and she vocalizes, for that matter) like a blues singer. That extra dash of grit, a flinty sass leavened by the lingering pain of an old heartbreak, gives the tune a dollop of real drama. “I know I’m not what you’re used to,” Borders later purrs, “but I know what you’ve been through.” There’s no questioning her aim, as the drapes are pulled, but at the same time, we get these glimpses of a worldly lover who’s seen a lot — and has the scars to prove it. A memorable twist.

Half Notes is a quick-take music feature on Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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