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My Brightest Diamond


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Beautiful & fierce alternative rock with classical influences

Status:

Most recent release, I Had Grown Wild (EP, 2015)

See also:

My Brightest Diamond's Site

Wikipedia's entry on My Brightest Diamond

Comparisons:

Antony and the Johnsons, Nina Nastasia, Bat for Lashes, a bit of PJ Harvey

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

I like all the low rumbly stuff, and the delicate smattering of high shrieks (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

basically a woman named Shara Worden, in rotating arrangements with various collaborators. she's absolutely phenomenal (timjy@sbcglobal.net)

I saw her music described as a marriage of chamber music, cabaret, and rock, and I think that's quite fitting. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Comments about live performance:

My Brightest Diamond (Central Presbyterian Church, Friday at midnight): Shara Worden accompanied by a string quartet, all clad in bizarre Lewis-Carroll-meets-the-Hofbrauhaus costumes. Absolutely, stunningly brilliant. I heard that My Brightest Diamond will be touring later this year with that exact configuration, and I don't care what work I have to blow off to get there, I *will* go. (3/17/08, meth@smoe.org)

Shara Worden is *weird*. Wonderfully so. Amazing! Operatically trained. She can do anything she wants with her voice, and does. Her recorded music doesn't seem to capture what she does live at all! And the recorded music (listening to it now so I'm only a few songs in) is plenty good. But live you find out that she can play guitar fiercely or beautifully or both, all the while singing like that. She can rock hard or croon .. I wouldn't go so far as to say 'sweetly'. She always looks like she is up to something, and there's dark fire brewing. She smiled a lot and was clearly having a lot of fun. She danced around, used some really cool alternate ways of mucking about with the sound or adding different sounds, she made great use of pedals. Her drummer was equally talented and creative. Her bassist was nothing special but didn't steal from the sound either, only contributed perfectly. It was just the three of them. No strings, nothing orchestral as seems to have been true at other shows I'm reading about. The sound was at the same time raw and lush. Anyway... if you get the chance to see My Brightest Diamond.. don't miss it.
     Sometimes a while after a show in retrospect you realize your reaction at the time was perhaps a bit unwarranted and heightened simply by an overall good night out. But in this case, re-reading what I wrote here...I still mean every word just as it is. I do listen to several songs from the CDs pretty frequently, but my memory of the live show is still vivid and incredible and something else entirely. (11/08, jessica@viscous.org)

finally, my brightest diamond came on. shara was joined by the reasons for her set and they went right into it. i'm always shocked by how good a guitarist she is and how articulate her playing is so i spent most of the show just pretty much watching her fingers. i think this performance was better than the last time she was at the space and, in fact, beat out the a thousand shark's teeth release show earlier this year since it was just more cohesive and together. i don't remember the set list (and stupidly did not record for various stupid reasons) but it was mostly drawn from the newer record. she did do her cover of "when doves cry," which i could have lived without. it's a fine cover but that's the prince song everyone does and i'd rather it not bump something else out of the set. my only complaint: it wasn't loud enough. granted, she was joined by strings but still, my brightest diamond has a sound that benefits from volume, volume, volume. (11/08, woj@smoe.org)

I saw the CD release show for A Thousand Shark's Teeth on June 17 in New York. Amazing.
     My Brightest Diamond in full band/orchestra formation (string quartet, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, marimba, drums, bass) came out dressed in white and black outfits with white cone-shaped hats (Shara Worden had black feathers on hers). I think some hats were thrown out to the crowd, and some people seemed to have brought their own with them which they whipped out at the beginning of the show. There was a face painter on hand, but I didn't see many people visit his table.
     It was a very festive atmosphere, and the musicians all seemed to be having a great time. They played songs from both albums as well as Prince's "When Doves Cry." I was constantly wowed by Shara's energy, her intensity, and the sheer variety of sounds she can produce with her voice. (2008, JoAnn Whetsell)

I got to see Clare and the Reasons and My Brightest Diamond on Friday evening.
     I didn't realize the show was basically going to be one band with two different lead singers until all the same people who had played with Clare got up on stage with Shara. I always find it hard to describe music, so I won't dance about the architecture, but the thing that struck me after the show was how from one song to another Shara Worden would tip back and forth from hauntingly beautiful to outright silly, but somehow that never seemed out of place when it was happening. (11/08, stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

I've seen Shara Worden and My Brightest Diamond a number of times over the last couple of years; live, she plays guitar and piano, backed by guitar/bass/drums =and= string trio or quartet. A very rich sound. And she has tremendous vocal range and style. The leadoff song on Bring Me the Workhorse—"Something of an End"—is a particularly choice example. Highly recommended, and very ecto-friendly. (5/28/06, dgk@panix.com)

My Brightest Diamond went through the whole album [All Things Will Unwind], in order, last night in Brooklyn. There was a full ensemble there from French horn to xylophone. The crowd loved it. (ciriwe@phobot.net)

My Brightest Diamond played Revolutionary War fort Castle Clinton tonight. Shara was wearing a cape made of bright blue, pink and orange bath scrub balls and looked like a hygienic clown from the front and a Steogosaurus with colorful buboes from the back.
     Shara's voice was the best I've ever heard it, though she had a throat lurgy which she thought gave her a Billie Holiday edge. She sang along with a busker in the distance, "a New York mash-up." Shara's current band consists of drums, violin, viola, clarinet, other woodwind, brass and the new music is artful chamber pop, sometimes bluesy. I prefer her doing rock but this was great live. Her hand gestures when singing are somewhere between sign language and dance. She leapt about exuberantly, and danced with a broom in a song about mice in her house. (7/11, k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

The show at the Bowery Ballroom was fantastic. Before the show started, Batala—a troupe of twelve women drummers—hammered away on the floor, surrounded by the audience, for at least 20 minutes nonstop. It was like the Energizer bunny on caffeine, x12. My Brightest Diamond went on stage as scheduled, but Batala didn't stop—at that point I thought Batala was just an opening act. There was a "players tried to take the field, the marching band refused to yield" moment... though part of the marching band was on the stage, since Shara had brought along some trumpets, a trombone, and a tuba. Batala approached the stage and turned around to face the audience, and then everyone launched into "Pressure"—which, for what it may have lacked in being precisely in tune, made up for it in sheer energy.
     Shara was dressed in a white pantsuit, and sported a huge mane of hair, but with the area behind one temple shaved. She was accompanied by Nathan Lithgow on bass and Tim Mulvenna on drums, as well as by D.M. Stith on one or two songs and someone else on guitar once (Tyler or Taylor something). For "Freak Out" she called a couple of musicians and DM Stith back up to the stage—which they evidently weren't expecting—to dance around crazily, which they did to great effect.
     Shara really rocked out, which she's gotten increasingly better at over the years. But there was also a very touching "I Have Never Loved Someone."
     She finished up with "Inside a Boy" and for her encore did a cover of "Fever," during which she came down into the audience. (9/14, psfblair@ix.netcom.com)

Recommended first album:

Bring Me the Workhorse or A Thousand Shark's Teeth

Recordings:


Bring Me the Workhorse

Release info:

2006—Asthmatic Kitty Records—AKR023

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Shara Worden—guitars, Wurlitzer (3, 5, 6, 9, 11), vibraphone (1-3, 5, 8-11), celesta (1, 6), music boxes (6), additional percussion (7), string arrangements, vocals

Guest artists:

Earl Harvin—drums
Chris Bruce—bass
Rob Moose—violin
Marla Hansen—viola
Maria Jeffers—cello
Keith Wright—accordion (3)
David Stith—prepared piano (5), additional background vocals (7, 9)
Zac Rae—pump organ (8, 10), electronic keyboard (1, 11)
Barry Wright—trumpet (10)

Produced by:

Shara Worden

Comments:

i've been digging it. it's quite an album, but i haven't fully digested it enough to properly review it yet. (woj@smoe.org)

Shara, like Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes, has a strong, trained voice, and is trying to merge classical and pop/rock impulses. In the artful, moody Ectoish way, not the cornball, yuck-yuck, my-ears-are-bleeding Josh Groban/Il Divo kind of way.
     The album is strong, but doesn't *quite* live up to my expectations. It's really, really good (which is saying a lot), but not thrilling. I think it's an issue of songwriting, composition and production not offering as many surprises as I believe she's capable of. (timjy@sbcglobal.net)

On the first track, Shara Worden sings the line "It was beautiful & terrible." And that sums up this album—dark and volatile and beautiful. Not perfect, but an excellent debut. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Tear It Down

Release info:

2007—Asthmatic Kitty Records—AKR030

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans

Group members:

Shara Worden

Guest artists:

Alias—remix (1)
Lusine—remix (2)
Gold Chains—remix (3)
Stakka—remix (4)
Murcof—remix (5)
Alfred Brown—remix (6)
DJ Kenny Mitchell—remix (7)
nimnomadic—featured guest (7)
Haruki—remix (8)
David Keith—remix (9)
David Michael Stith—remix (00)
Siamese Sisters—remix (11)
Strings of Consciousness—remix (12)
Philippe Petit—computer (12)
Herve Vincent—guitar, keyboards (12)
Abdenor Natouri—double bass (12)
Cedar AV—remix (13)
Meg Karls—additional violin (13)

Produced by:

Shara Worden

Comments:

Really only of interest to big fans and people who like remixes. I really like a few tracks, really dislike a couple, and am rather ho-hum about the rest. But I'm not that into remixes to begin with. (JoAnn Whetsell)

A Thousand Shark's Teeth

Release info:

2008—Asthmatic Kitty Records—AKR046

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Shara Worden—guitars, pump organ, kalimba, music boxes, percussion, keyboard, piano, string arrangement (9), vocals

Guest artists:

Earl Harvin—drums, bass
Chris Bruce—bass
Rob Moose—violin (1-11)
Olivier Manchon—violin (1-8, 10, 11)
Hiroko Taguchi, Suzy Perelman—violin (1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 11)
Marla Hansen—viola (1-11)
Nadia Sirota—viola (1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 11)
Maria Jeffers—cello (1-11)
Jody Redhage—cello (1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 11)
Zac Rae—baritone guitar, keyboards, marimba, guitar, vibraphone, pump organ
Joel Shearer—guitar (1, 2, 11)
Ben Lanz—trombone, trumpet
Sebastian Krueger—clarinet, bass clarinet, clarinet arrangement
Maeve Gilchrist—harp
Nathan Lithgow—double bass
Rachel Elliot—bassoon, bassoon arrangement
Michael Atkinson—French horn
Thom Kuzumplik—marimba
Garrett Ward—marimba (4)
David Cossin—bells, gongs, waterphone
David Michael Stith—background vocals (5, 7, 9)
Gary Stith—timpani
Ian Smit—guitar (6, 9)
Sxip Shirey—circus sounds & toys (6)
Julianne Carney—strings (9)
Padma Newsome—string arrangement (9)

Produced by:

Shara Worden

Comments:

Dark rock with cabaret and symphonic influences and the beautiful voice of singer-songwriter-instrumentalist Shara Worden. Her compositions are complex as anything Rufus Wainwright or mid-period Joni Mitchell put out, and her voice is powerful and rich, with a rarely utilized awesome operatic high end. Love love love. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

I am actually finding A Thousand Shark's Teeth a little bit more complex and surprising than Bring me the Workhorse, if more subtle. (timjy@sbcglobal.net)

Brilliant. More than delivers on the promise of her debut. The second half is more difficult to get into (more arty, more complex), but so worth it. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Sharon Worden continues to demonstrate she's an artist of note. Live, she is entirely captivating. On album, there is something about her forced way of singing that leaves me a bit cold, but she's definitely more creative and has a more unique point of view than almost any other artist performing today. (jjhanson@att.net)

Still not as interesting to me as previous album, but love 'Inside a boy', 'From the top of the world' and 'Black and Costaud' (the Ravel explanation helped). B-side 'I had a pearl' should be on the album. (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)


All Things Will Unwind

Release info:

2011—Asthmatic Kitty—AKR085

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Shara Worden—vocals, baritone ukulele, bells, autoharp, mbira, pump organ

Guest artists:

Rob Moose—violin, guitars, banjo
Nadia Sirota—viola
Brian Snow—cello
Hideaki Aomori—clarinet, bass clarinet
Alex Sopp—flute, piccolo
CJ Camerieri—trumpet, horn, pump organ
Brian Wolfe—drums
Brad Albetta—bass, piano, moog
Zac Rae—marimba, pianet, prepared piano, Roland RS-09, Roland Jupiter 8, guitar, mellotron, vibes, celesta, Wurlitzer, orchestron, bells
Justin Riddle—percussion on "Ding Dang"
Tim Fite—celeste, fireball, clangs & dangs, synth bass on "Ding Dang"
Thomas Bartlett—Rhodes on "High Low Middle"
DM Stith—vocals, acoustic guitar

Produced by:

Shara Worden, Rob Moose

Comments:

Wonderful album! Full of life and vitality, bursting with originality and color. The chamber arrangements are gorgeous (as is Shara's voice). I particularly love the use of woodwinds. (JoAnn Whetsell)

One of the best albums of the year. (stjarnell@yahoo.com, valrichardson@igc.org)


This Is My Hand

Release info:

2014—Asthmatic Kitty—AKR103

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Shara Worden—vocals, guitars, drum programming, KaRimba, keyboards, wind & choral arrangements

Guest artists:

Earl Harvin—drums, drum machine
Brian Wolfe—drums, percussion
Chris Bruce—bass, guitar
Zac Rae—drum programming, percussion, guitars, keyboards
Casey Foubert—percussion, interruptions, autoharp, guitar, keyboards
CJ Camerieri—trumpet, horn
Hideaki Aomori—alto saxophone, clarinets
Michael Davis—trombones
Alex Sopp—flutes
Jason Treuting—glockenspiel
Timo Andres—piano, celeste
Megan Levin—harp
DM Stith—guest vocals
Khorikos Choir—Gang vocals
     Kris Nolte
     Audrey Mae DeRocker
     Gordon Bartow
     Sarah Kessler Wolven
     Eliza Ruth Watson
     Stephanie Leke
     Alyssa Manzi
     Alessandra Levy
     Kathleen McClafferty

Produced by:

Zac Rae; co-produced by Shara Worden

Comments:

The new album is fantastic. (psfblair@ix.netcom.com)

This MBD album is AMAZING—it feels like the record I've been waiting for Shara to release ever since I first learned about her—all of the eccentricity and genre hybridity, but much more drama and immediacy than its predecessors, which I thought were sometimes a little too... studied, or something? This is really thrilling. (timjy@sbcglobal.net)

I don't think I've loved a My Brightest Diamond album so completely since Bring Me the Workhorse. This may even be my favorite. It's also her most contemporary, with beats and references to 70s music, even disco. Also brass accents and woodwind flourishes. (JoAnn Whetsell)

One of the best albums of the year. (mcurry@io.com, gordodo@optonline.net)


Further info:

My Brightest Diamond compilation work includes:

  • a cover of Radiohead's "Lucky" on OKX: A Tribute to OK Computer (2007)
  • a cover of The Beatles' "Everybody's Got Something To Hide, Except Me and My Monkey" on MOJO Magazine's ode to the White Album (October 2008 issue)
  • "Nature Boy" on I'll Stay 'Til After Christmas (2008)
  • "Feeling Good" on Dark Was the Night (2009)
  • a cover of "Tainted Love" on Guilt By Association, Vol. 2 (2009) and Gimme Indie Rock Prom (2009)
  • a live version of "Dragonfly" on The Six Sessions (2010)
These tracks are not available elsewhere.

Shara Worden released an EP Live at Schubas in 2004. yMusic performed her piece "A Paper, a Pen, a Note to a Friend" on their album Beautiful Mechanical (2011).

My Brightest Diamond collaborations include:

  • "Overfrail" with Uphill Racer on How It Feels to Find There's More (2011)
Shara Worden collaborations include:

  • "Kyrie" with Sarah Fullen and Megan Rederick on Come O Spirit! Anthology of Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Vol. 1 (2009)
  • "Seven Years" on David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's Here Lies Love (feb 2010)
  • "On the Edge" with Clogs on their albums Veil Waltz and The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton (both 2010)
  • "Cocodrillo," "The Owl of Love," "Adages of Cleansing," and "Raise the Flag" with Clogs on their album The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton (2010)
  • "We Were Here" with Sufjan Stevens and Clogs on the Clogs' album The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton (2010)
  • "Keep Movin' On" with Vinnie Paz on his album Season of the Asassin (jun 2010)
  • the album Penelope with composer Sarah Kirkland Snider, conductor Brad Lubman, and Signal orchestra (oct 2010)
  • the album Letters to Distant Cities with Rob Moose and Clare & the Reasons (2011)
  • "The Only Hand to Hold" with Prefuse 73 on his album The Only She Chapters (2011)
  • "I'm on Fire" with Stateless on their EP I'm on Fire (2011)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2016-06-04 23:05:50.
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