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Album Review: My Brightest Diamond — All Things Will Unwind (Michelle Ratering)

My Brightest Diamond
All Things Will Unwind
Asthmatic Kitty (2011)

Having studied Opera at the University of Texas, it is no wonder that Shara Worden’s voice holds a certain ethereal vocal quality that drips of technical perfection and a range to make even the most diverse singer a bit envious. On My Brightest Diamond’s latest album, All Things Will Unwind, Warden trots out more than just her phenomenal range, which was already thoroughly explored in her two previous albums. While exploring a new set of instruments and a diverse range of vocal styling, Worden proves that even with outstanding backing of instruments, her voice remains essential to the ensemble’s dynamic and a driving force of her music. But Shara Worden is more than a vocalist. She’s a poet and an astute storyteller.

All Things Will Unwind is significantly different from her previous work. While the album retains her quirky, performative flair, the album develops on a much broader scale, embracing styles and musical features that were absent from both Bring Me the Workhorse and A Thousand Shark’s Teeth. Through a series of video clips released through My Brightest Diamond’s label, Asthmatic Kitty, Worden gives insight into different aspects of the construction of the album. When discussing the story behind the creation of the album, Worden talks about how her recent move to inner city Detroit impacted her album, and how the album contained songs that were inspired from her experiences living in a place that is struggling but has bit and pieces of art and inspiration. While this is developed in the narrative of her songs, it can also be seen though the jazzy tones that are more than vaguely reminiscent of Motown styling of the album’s songs.

“We Added it Up” is a song of comparisons, both lyrically and instrumentally. Brilliantly executed, the song pairs flutes and bass clarinets playfully, allowing the blend to musically fortify her clever words. “There was you, there was me / We never could agree / If I was up, you were down… If I was flat, you were a ball… If I was loud, then you were shhhh.” Eventually, the musical space between the instruments is fused together smoothly, as the lyrics shift to discuss the mesh of sound and love’s role in binding together opposites.

Low and seductive, “Be Brave” is mysteriously primal and lyrically empowering. Weaving up from a dark, low tone up to a more lilting descant, Worden plaits charming accents, such as light, playful bells and high twirling of a flute run with deep, musing lyrics and notes near the bottom of any soprano’s fathomable octave. The opening drum sequence pulses steadily, pushing throughout the entirety of the song. “I’m feeling scared and I am overwhelmed,” she croons, but later declares, “Be brave, dear one. Be changed, be undone.”

And “Everything Is In Line” is a collaboration between Worden and DM Stith, who was a massive part of the lyrical creation of the track. Stith talks about how it was through a series of musical exchanges that he and Worden built up the song as “part conversation and part proclamation,” which not only seems to describe the track, but the album as a whole. While many of the other songs effectively weave stories, it is “Everything Is In Line” that takes the storytelling cake. With an intense amount of layering and musical dissonance between both instruments and vocals, it is easy to get lost in the wave of sound developed. Regardless, the raw talent shown is overwhelming and the track paints clear images of adventure, apologies and transition.

“Detroit,” Worden says at the end of a monologue about the album’s background, “is a great metaphor for a lot of things. There’s real hardship in the city, but there are people who are making things out of what they have, using what resources are available and somehow creating something beautiful and something that is really powerful because it was created in such an adverse environment. I hope this record lives in that same spirit.”

8/10

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