Band of the Day

2012.02.05

My Brightest Diamond

An elegantly theatrical and dark mix of opera, cabaret, rock and pop
Oh to exercise the act of falling in love with you over and over and over.
lyrics from Escape Routes

My Brightest Diamond is the project of Detroit, Michigan-based musician Shara Worden. The singer/multi-instrumentalist has been creating experimental pop music for over a decade in a variety of different styles and formats. Growing up in a musical household (her parents are accomplished musicians) Worden studied opera at the University of North Texas' prestigious music program. Worden moved to New York in the late 90s where she recorded experimental albums under the name AwRY, utilizing many musicians and unconventional instruments. She later joined Sufjan Stevens' Illinoisemakers, touring with him in support of his 2005 album Illinois. In 2006, Worden changed her moniker to My Brightest Diamond and released Bring Me The Workhorse on Asthmatic Kitty. She released A Thousand Shark's Teeth in 2008. Worden moved to Detroit and released her latest album All Things Will Unwind in October 2011.

The artwork for My Brightest Diamonds' new album shows frontwoman Shara Worden gazing into the distance with wonder, surrounded by what looks like fluffly bursts of red and orange fireworks. She looks like a cabaret singer turned wizard, and if you listen to the album, that sentiment is just further confirmed. A talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist trained for opera, Worden has been been recording under the My Brighest Diamonds moniker since 2006. She's a restless artist who's gotten her fingers into everything from experimental pop, to classical groups, to Sufjan Stevens' touring band, to film scores and multi-media projects, and she brings that unquenchable energy to her latest album, All Things Unwind.

The album is about as lush as it gets, with rich textures coming at you from every direction: softly trilling flutes, jazzy acoustic guitars, velvety string sections, and Worden's commandingly beautiful vocals. It sounds like she stuffed an opera into a cabaret show, then decided to turn it into an indie rock musical after all. The album has a theatrical flair as it swoops from jazzy energetic highs to sensuously dark and mellow lows, only to shoot back up again with a wave of Worden's magic orchestral wand. "Escape Routes" starts with steady percussive acoustic guitar and Worden's serious, pretty vocals. Orchestral flourishes dart back and forth, dancing around like Worden's pet snake, coiling up, then striking with dramatic panache as she sings "Let's close off all our escape routes/We Can have it all tonight." On "Reaching To The Other Side" brooding drums and orchestral waves swell with a dark magic to them, and Worden's vocals and arrangement make her sound like a less alien Bjork. She hits that hallowed ground of experimental music where it's different and interesting, but with enough familiarity and accessability that it doesn't even feel out there, it just sounds good. "High Low Middle" is a jazzy romp exemplifying the more upbeat sides to the album. Pounding piano and insistent instrumentation drive the track forward as Worden questions class stratification and manages to evoke a great old-world European feel. All Things Unwind is a highlight in an experienced artist's career, a many layered work bursting with stylistic restlessness and charm.