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.