Release Date: Sep 16, 2014
Record label: Asthmatic Kitty
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Dream Pop
Alongside her genre-shifting operatic My Brightest Diamond project, Arkansas musician Shara Worden has worked with Sufjan Stevens, The National and Bon Iver. ‘This is My Hand’, the fifth MBD album, begins with the orchestral sass of ‘Pressure’. ‘Lover Killer’ entices with ghostly vocals until a brassy beat snaps the listener in half with its psychedelic stomp.
During the three years between All Things Will Unwind and This Is My Hand, My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden pursued arty projects such as scoring a Buster Keaton film and performing in a Matthew Barney film. She also found inspiration in Top 40 hits, and as the None More Than You EP suggested, this unlikely but captivating combination of high art and pop culture delivers some of Worden's most creative and fully realized music. She opts for a restricted -- but not restrained -- palette of sounds that reflects the album's dualities: rarefied woodwinds, brass, and percussion meet crunching beats, chugging guitars, and surprisingly funky basslines.
Shara Worden has been quietly carving out a niche for herself as a unique voice for some time now. Her projects have certainly been varied; aside from releasing music under the My Brightest Diamond moniker, she's contributed to everything from last year's The Blind Boys of Alabama release I'll Find a Way to Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang's Death Speaks, a classical composition that truly sculpted beauty from morbidity. .
Most musicians understand the importance of changes in volume and get audiences to listen carefully to quiet, intimate moments and then contrast these with loud sounds to convey bigger and bolder emotions and thoughts. That’s par for the course. But My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden takes things further. She employs marching band drums and horns one minute and then her solo voice the next without ever changing the intensity of the music.
When interviewed about the process behind This Is My Hand, Shara Worden’s fourth LP under the My Brightest Diamond moniker, the operatically-trained singer mentioned writing with a vivid image in mind: an “imaginary tribe of people, gathering around a fire, making music together, telling stories, hearing from the shaman. ” The energy of community has fed some of Worden’s best work in the past decade. Beginning with the supporting musicians that helped foster her experimental cabaret pop as AwRY in the early aughts and expanding outward to yMusic’s effervescent chamber music orchestrations on MBD’s last full-length, 2011’s All Things Will Unwind, a sense of collaboration has become as essential to the My Brightest Diamond project as Worden's inimitably acrobatic voice.
This Is My Hand is the fourth album proper from My Brightest Diamond - aka the project of singer and multi-instrumentalist Shara Worden - and it’s a record that doesn’t hang around. Album opener and lead single ‘Pressure’ sets the tone for what’s about to come nicely. A marching band-style drum intro gives way to a swirling mix of dark synths, manic percussion and fluttering flutes, while Worden’s remarkable voice soars above it all.
Butterfly-voiced and art-minded, My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden has, thus far, been a familiar name to a limited coterie of left-field pop fans. One song on her latest album – the Detroit-based singer’s fourth – could change all that, though. Pressure is one of those songs that stops you in your tracks, so jaw-dropping is the clash between your preconceptions and the sound coming into your ears.
Under the moniker My Brightest Diamond, singer-songwriter Shara Worden has crafted an ethereal, romanticized aura that’s textured her output. Having collaborated with acts including Sufjan Stevens and the National’s Dessner brothers, Worden has combined an indie rock pedigree with her own background as a classically trained opera singer, producing a dreamy, gossamer sound undercut with a dark sensibility. This fusion of influences embodies her fourth LP with My Brightest Diamond, This Is My Hand.
My Brightest Diamond, otherwise known as Shara Worden, is a Michigan born, New York-based multi-instrumentalist with a background in classical music. She’s had a varied if somewhat underwhelming career to date, with an array of projects dating back to her student days in Texas during the late 1990s. After graduating, Worden spent a period based in Moscow and then, back in Brooklyn, fronted a band including wine glass and wind chime players, and has made guest appearances on albums by US indie luminaries Sufjan Stevens, The National and The Decemberists.
There aren’t many musicians these days traveling a truly distinctive path – most of them simply put their own spins on previously established forms. (And to be clear: there’s not a thing wrong with that approach.) But there are a handful who sound like they’re coming from a unique place, and Shara Worden is one of them. On her self-willed project’s fourth LP This is My Hand, My Brightest Diamond certainly has something in common with familiar tropes: the thrumming electrobeat of “I am not the Bad Guy,” the drum corps atmosphere of “Pressure,” the bodygrooving funk of “Lover Killer,” the classically-inclined flourishes and arrangements throughout that hint at her bonafide musical training.