My Brightest Diamond is an accurate stage name for Detroit-based experimental-pop singer Shara Worden because her classically trained voice shines through the whole record. Her third LP, All Things Will Unwind, combines an array of different genres and styles, including opera, classical and even musical evangelism, which is deeply rooted in her family history. Her previous two albums were written and recorded in New York, but this one stemmed from her hometown of Detroit, where she reached back to her American Indian roots and expressed herself through a collection of 11 self-reflecting songs. Each song is intellectually and aesthetically pleasing, painting images of ambitious and challenging topics: the crumbling national economy, the global financial crisis, social protests, and Worden’s own life evolving as she becomes a mother.
The album is quite pleasant on the ear with arrangements of violins, flutes, drums and horns, which flaunt Worden’s compositional theory training and intrigue the listener without missing a beat.
Her voice never disappoints; filled with graceful notes high and low, there’s never a strain or crackle in sight. yMusic, a contemporary ensemble featured on the album, adds melodious instrumental and vocal background.
“We Added It Up” is the first song on the album, and it is full of cartoony-richness. A game of cat and mouse develops as she sings about two people falling in love despite their differences. “There was you, there was me/We never could agree/If I was up/You were down/You were there/I was here/A grand puppeteer stuck it all/together.” As the end nears, she sings, “Love binds the world forever and ever,” and one can only wonder whether that statement is positive or negative. But as she sings, “Confusion makes the world go round,” uncertainty is exactly the feeling she’s trying to evoke.
“Be Brave” opens with a light drumming, resembling a nervous internal beat which she confirms whilst singing “Sh-Sh-Sh-Shara this is going to hurt/Be brave dear one/Be changed or be undone.” Throughout the song, she gives the impression that she is talking to herself and trying to convince herself to be brave. As the song progresses, her singing picks up in strength and confidence, almost completely tuning out the light drumming. Her bravery shines as her voice melts together with the background music to create a playful yet thrilling song.
“I Have Never Loved Someone” is about her experience as a new mother. It begins with sounds of her rocking a cradle as she sings to her newborn son in a soothing voice. “I have never loved someone the way I love you/I have never seen a smile like yours/And if you grow up to be king, or clown, or pauper/I will say you are my favorite one in town.” The optimism doesn’t stay for too long as Worden puts her own twist on the song. “And when I grow to be a poppy in the graveyard/I will send you all my love upon the breeze.” We are reminded that nothing in the world ever stays young and beautiful for too long, yet she still makes it sound calm and mesmerizing.
“High Low Middle” is one of the more uptempo and catchy songs on the album. It would also be perfect to swing dance to as it is accompanied with elements of the saxophone. The song is based on Detroit’s unemployment crisis and states that the upper class does not appreciate what they have and the poor will always fight for more. “When you’re privileged, you don’t even know you’re privileged/When you’re not, you know/When you’re happy, you don’t even know you’re happy/When you’re not, you know.”
The album ends with a comforting lyric: “You’re OK,” and that’s exactly the feeling this album brings forth. The world is full of good and bad. The bad is hell, but once a balance is found, like Worden does in her album, everything will be OK. The record doesn’t have many boundaries, no genre or lyrical constraints. She recalls her experiences in life. Just like anything can happen in life, anything can happen on this record, which is what makes it so stunning.
My Brightest Diamond – All Things Will Unwind tracklist:
- “We Added It Up”
- “Reaching Through to the Other Side”
- “In the Beginning”
- “Escape Routes”
- “Be Brave”
- “She Does Not Brave the War”
- “Ding Dang”
- “There’s a Rat”
- “High Low Middle”
- “Everything Is in Line”
- “I Have Never Loved Someone”