Sufjan Stevens seems to have had his hand in a few rising stars of the indie world’s careers at some point in time: Annie Clark, The Welcome Wagon and Shara Worden. Worden’s material as My Brightest Diamond bears a resemblance to Stevens’, but don’t get me wrong – My Brightest Diamond is something that’s very much her own and nobody else’s. She incorporates elements of electronic, folk, swing and pop in to a whimsical amalgam that you can’t help but smile at. On “Pressure,” the first single we get to hear from¬†This Is My Hand, Worden just reminds us, once again, of how she’s able to utilize her voice like a Swiss army knife and how she’s able to write lyrics that are just as colorful as her instrumentation.
Now, if you’re in Canada or you just want the frosted vinyl, head to the Paper Bag Records link via the Buy Now button below.
Check out “Pressure” below via the Bandcamp player and see what you think of it. Cheers!
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This Is My Hand began with a question. What is the value of music?
My Brightest Diamond‚Äôs Shara Worden was working on an audio-visual collaboration, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler‚Äôs six-hour long cine-opera, River of Fundament, set in the automobile factories of latter-day Detroit. In the film, a high school-style marching band is seen in procession through the streets of Motor City and playing in its vast, echoing factory spaces. This struck a chord in Shara, for whom the new album would be a purposeful readdressing of music-making on the most basic, tribal level.
‚ÄúIn the States, the marching band is still alive in most public schools, so it represented to me inclusive music making, something anyone can learn. That‚Äôs the definition of folk music to me, music made by the people,‚ÄĚ Shara explains. ‚ÄúI loved the communal quality . . . the way drums and horns travel in large three-dimensional spaces.‚ÄĚ But it also sparked a search for more personal meaning. ‚ÄúThe genesis of the new album was looking at the changes that have happened in music over my career, and trying to reevaluate what [music] meant to me in the first place. What is the value of music?‚ÄĚ
Answering that became a journey beyond the composition of music, which Shara has demonstrated mastery over time and time again, and into the cultural history of music. ‚ÄúI had this ‚Äėback-to-basics‚Äô moment of reading how humans were making sounds before we were using words,‚ÄĚ says Shara. ‚ÄúThe album started with these fundamental ideas of music‚Äôs function. I just made a list: clap, singing along, and so on . . . ways in which people can simply join in with music.‚ÄĚ
The opening track on This Is My Hand, ‚ÄúPressure,‚ÄĚ is an invitation. ‚ÄúDiamonds,‚ÄĚ Shara sings, ‚Äúso wild I cannot tame them / so shiny I cannot name them.‚ÄĚ Within seconds of lowering the needle, listeners hear a sharp, drum-rolled call to attention, courtesy of the Detroit Party Marching Band. What follows is a Shara-choreographed whirlwind of horns, woodwinds, beats, xylophones and synths. The sound propels one of the most immediate songs in the MBD canon to date. The ensuing ‚ÄúBefore the Words‚ÄĚ (‚ÄúBefore the verse there was the sound‚ÄĚ) and the title track are no less direct in exploring and defining the fundamentals of not just pop music, but, well, life. ‚ÄúThis is my voice/ this is my heart / this is my choice,‚ÄĚ sings Shara. And ‚ÄúLover Killer,‚ÄĚ with its imagery of battlefields encircled by crows, evokes the influence of author Daniel Levitin. ‚ÄúApparition,‚ÄĚ the final track, is a Tron-like electronic, slow-motion departure from the physical world.
This is My Hand track-listing:
2. Before the Words
3. This Is My Hand
4. Lover Killer
5. I am not the Bad Guy
6. Looking at the Sun
8. So Easy
- Maybe Buy
- Not My Style
- Too Expensive