My Brightest Diamond
Bring Me the Workhorse


4.5
superb

Review

by The Katz brothers USER (183 Reviews)
January 1st, 2007 | 10 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Beautiful, dark, folk-tinged Indie, complete with de-tuned guitars and creepy strings, made by ex-sufjan back-up singer.

I have come to realize one thing: opting out of seeing My Brightest Diamond at The Space (local venue) may have been, concert wise, one of the stupidest things I have ever done.

My Brightest Diamond is the main project of Sufjan Stevens’s back-up vocalist Shara Worden. Sufjan’s obvious influences shines through brightly on Bring Me the Workhorse , a Sufjan-esque Folk meets Indie Rock masterpiece. But My Brightest Diamond’s former touring mate isn’t their only influence. Hints of Antony & the Johnsons show through as well, especially in Worden’s strong, pretty voice and the many string arrangements that call the tracks on Bring Me the Workhorse home.

Shara Worden just seems like one of those women that is impossibly easy to fall in love with. She’s beautiful and her voice is damn near perfect, at least. Because beauty is (usually) irrelevant to music, in this paragraph I will discuss the voice of My Brightest Diamond. There is obvious operatic influence within Worden’s vocals, another similarity between MBD and Antony and the Johnsons. The operatic influence isn’t all that surprising, considering Shara used to sing opera and is classically trained. Her voice is strong but is prone to fluctuation, making My Brightest Diamond’s sound all the more unique. At times, her voice sounds very much like Jeff Buckley, other times more like a deeper voiced Sufjan Stevens. Another striking quality about Worden’s vocals is their ability to sound childish and incredibly dark, sometimes even at the same time. Such an example of this comes in The Robin’s Jar .

The Robin’s Jar is about as dark as Bring Me the Workhorse gets. Its bass driven verses set up the chorus, full of de-tuned guitar and creepy strings, to take the spotlight. The lyrics describe something that happens to every child with access to nature. They describe the inevitable finding of a dead animal, and trying to revive it. “So we prayed to God above/That He'd bring it back to us/So we put it in a jar/and waited and waited” , Shara sings over a swelling organ riff before both the strings and chorus kick in and she sings “but mama made us bury it/Mama made us bury it in the backyard . The next verse deals with an even tougher subject: the death, mourning, and burial of a best friend.

Not everything on My Brightest Diamond’s debut is as dreary as The Robin’s Jar, though songs like Gone Away , the bluesy third track, or We Were Sparkling , the sad, yet too-pretty-for-it’s-own-good sixth track, may give that impression. Golden Star, while retaining the de-tuned clean guitars and mellow drums of many of the sadder songs, has a much happier feel. Though not really a “happy” song, Golden Star’s choruses explode with radiant strings and pleasant vocals. The vocals on Golden Star may be some of the best on the entire album, Worden’s high note at about 2:00 into the song can attest to this. But, whether sad, happy, or in between, all of the song’s on this record are beautiful. The mellow, yet dark, instrumentation compliments Shara Worden’s vocals in a way that combines hipster indie with pure beauty. Bring Me the Workhorse is, simply put, a grand album and an album that all fans of this genre should check out.

-Dan



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user ratings (61)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
January 1st 2007


2806 Comments


This sounds awesome. I don't know how you can just start a review immediately without any real introduction, but you do it well so whatever.

Two-Headed Boy
January 1st 2007


4527 Comments


"Mommy, can I be staff TOO?"
"No."
*tantrum*
Uh yeah, great review. This sounds great, my dad likes Sufjan more than I do, so maybe I'll sucker him into buying this for me.

Dancin' Man
January 2nd 2007


719 Comments


They played at my school with Gregory and the Hawk in the string section. I bought the album as soon as their set was done. I must say, the album is great but live, they are amazing.

The Jungler
January 2nd 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool, this is featured.

They played at my school with Gregory and the Hawk in the string section. I bought the album as soon as their set was done. I must say, the album is great but live, they are amazing.
Yeah, my friend opened for them and said they were amazing. I've been watching videos on Youtube for quite some time now.
And Two Head, I actually thought you were going to make staff. Probably next time I guess.

livinginafantasy
January 2nd 2007


35 Comments


the way this album has been described i'm getting a slight joanna newsom vibe, along with other artists you have mentioned.

either way, i'm going to check this out.
now.

The Jungler
January 3rd 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, comparisons to Joanna Newsom could easily be made.
I just kind of forgot to.

Doppelganger
April 22nd 2007


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

MBD was amazing when they opened for The Decemberists last week. She sang the female part on "Yankee Bayonet" also.

foreverendeared
July 10th 2008


14678 Comments


i keep forgetting how mesmerizing and beautiful this album is. but ithink it's really funny how many 3 word "my" bands there are. my bloody valentine, my brightest diamond, my chemical romance, my dying bride, my morning jacket. i'm sure there's more but those are just the ones on my iPOD

Satellite
August 12th 2009


20826 Comments


I decided to check this out after seeing Shara's insane guest performance with the Decemberists last night. I really like this a lot.

Shadius
September 30th 2009


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a really beautiful record. Checked her out after seeing her name on the Dark Was The Night compilation.



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