Under the moniker My Brightest Diamond, singer-songwriter Shara Worden has crafted an ethereal, romanticized aura that’s textured her output. Having collaborated with acts including Sufjan Stevens and the National’s Dessner brothers, Worden has combined an indie rock pedigree with her own background as a classically trained opera singer, producing a dreamy, gossamer sound undercut with a dark sensibility.
This fusion of influences embodies her fourth LP with My Brightest Diamond, This Is My Hand. A deliberately crafted execution buoyed by Worden’s haunting vocals, the album plays up the dynamic of opera theatrics tinged with a keenly applied rock posture. Produced alongside keyboardist Zac Rae, This Is My Hand sprawls from Worden’s signature celestial tone and hones in on a composition wrought with deeper percussive tempos. In “Before the Words”, she invokes a frenzied, feverish guise over rabid horns and drums. “Lover Killer” adopts a similar sense of restlessness, as Worden curtly croons over a jagged section of strings and horns. A dark pallor springs forth from these opening tracks, leading into the shadowy “I Am Not the Bad Guy”, in which Worden angrily confronts the grip of a tormented love. She painstakingly cries, “I was so desperate for relief … I love you and I want you to know this is what love feels like.”
With such a sweeping vocal range, Worden is consistently adept at cultivating a striking, discernible atmosphere. The downfall of possessing such an arresting quality, however, can be the temptation of becoming engulfed in it. While her bellowing cries are a haunting accompaniment to many of the tracks on the first half of the album, they become the sole focal point during slow lulls like “So Easy” and “Apparition”. The strong formulas that embodied the beginning of the album fall apart here, instead resulting in tracks that become overpowered by the force of Worden’s voice.
While This Is My Hand carries the celestial torch held high by My Brightest Diamonds’ previous works, and does so with a discerning eye to continuity, it also doesn’t break any ground. The album prevails as a strong hallmark for Worden’s diverse background, exacting her signature theatrical drama and indie rock influences. The only lapse is its inability to explore — which, in going by her unconventional background, Worden seems more than capable of doing.
Essential Tracks: “Lover Killer”, “Before the Words”