'This Is My Hand' is the fifth record by indie folk songwriter Shara Worden under her My Brightest Diamond alias, released on Sufjan Steven's Asthmatic Kitty label. Worden's booming voice is complemented by an array of percussion and theatrical synth and what has been described as "huge production", suggesting a less folk directed sound.
- Before The Words
- This Is My Hand
- Lover Killer
- I Am Not The Bad Guy
- Looking At The Sun
- So Easy
Vinyl LP £14.99 AKR103LP
LP on Asthmatic Kitty.
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CD £9.99 AKR103CD
CD on Asthmatic Kitty.
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Shana Holden has several albums out already under her My Brightest Diamond moniker but I'm only now hearing her for the first time. Amazing how much music you can listen to on a weekly basis and still have artists go under your radar for years. There's just too much of it. Apparently what she was doing before was folky chamber pop stuff, but this album here is quite brash arranged pop, mixing live and electronic beats, rock guitars, synths, brass, strings and woodwind for a kind of introspective modern soul-pop sound that I'd file somewhere between the showy and bombastic recent Joan As Policewoman offering and Gemma Ray's more understated but similarly slick newie.
I'm particularly enjoying the more upbeat tracks like opener 'Pressure' and the pulsating '80s pop inspired 'Lover Killer', that switches from smoulderingly moody verses into an unnervingly peppy chorus. There's some interesting Sufjan Stevens-esque polyrhythmic stuff going on in 'This Is My Hand' and the bewitching 'Shape', which has a dizzying weightlessness with its dinky Philip Glass-y rhythms and silky Julia Holter-ish vocals, later breaking into dislocated funk-rock stumble full of percussive blasts of gnarled fuzz bass and gang vocals. Some of the more downbeat numbers can drag a little but overall this is a spirited and imaginative effort. Would listen again.
8/10 Steven Holland 28th January 2015
With her first and second albums coming from a singer-songwriter perspective and building impressively upon that with 2011's "All Things Will Unwind", Shara Worden (AKA My Brightest Diamond) continues her highly explorative and fusion-friendly nature with her forth album "This is My Hand". The solo suited chamber pop charms have been intensified, almost as if Shara has burst forth as a more confident performer and composer. The vocal performances (both lead and backing) are passionately heated and more alive than ever, the brass accompaniments heard throughout are an uplifting fanfare to Shara's eclectic mix of the newly born joyous songstress she's become and the shy singer songwriter that we heard on her 2006 debut "Bring Me the Workhorse".
Shara Worden is not afraid of jumping from one style to the other from song to song, "Pressure", the albums opening track, is a jumpy and sassy, brass-heavy showcase, whereas "Before the Words" is a clever vocal composition that tiptoes from one line to the next with a stylistic and progressive flow. She's a real weaver of multiples, a shape-shifter of sound if you like.
That's not to say that the old Shara isn't still with us. The Shara that spun the smaller, intimate pieces is found nestling at the tail end of "This is My Hand", the last three tracks are a soft lullaby to close out an energetic adventure. "Resonance" especially, sounds very much like the Shara we last heard on her first two albums whilst the closing piece, "Apparition" serves to massage the soul in to a peaceful slumber.
My Brightest Diamond is a wonderful little gem to discover, constantly reshaping her style and image to intrigue and provoke. To quote her own bandcamp page, if you'll forgive my unoriginality: "The more influences My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden absorbs from the world around her, the less she sounds like anybody else. " I could not agree more.
Favourite track: "Lover Killer"
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