My Brightest Diamond Bring Me the Workhorse

My Brightest Diamond Bring Me the Workhorse
Channelling Kate Bush in one breath and PJ Harvey in another, Shara Worden shows off an enviable vocal range and sensibility on this diverse debut. The former "Illinoisemaker” could only back up Sufjan Stevens for so long before her own muse drew her into the spotlight. There’s nothing tentative about Bring Me the Workhorse, which ambitiously explores aspects of theatrical prog rock to create a melodramatic soundtrack for Worden’s operatic delivery. "Something of an End” brims with the foreboding menace of a Nick Cave song before drums come crashing in over Worden’s apocalyptic wordplay. The song gives way to a pop rhythm, which "Golden Star” picks up on with Worden’s indie-cool guitar buzzing like a polite Sonic Youth progression. With its loping drums and understated string-section, "Gone Away” unapologetically conjures up Portishead, while "Dragonfly” finds Worden matching the rich timbre of Leslie Feist. Gracious moments such as these make a demented, spastic and an aptly-named dose of goth/punk like "Freak Out” quite jarring. Such inarticulate instrumentation lends the record its moody atmosphere, which is amplified in sparse songs like "We Were Sparkling” and the herky-jerky "Workhorse.” All told, My Brightest Diamond presents a harrowingly romantic and subtly devotional first record.

Why do you suppose this is such an emotionally eclectic record? Some of that was very deliberate. The melancholy songs tend to come easier but I didn’t really want to make a record of six-minute songs like that. Instead of just writing about all the sad things, let me write about the positive things and that’s where a song like "Golden Star” comes from.

How did being an "Illinoisemaker” affect you? I never really seek out happiness but jumping around in a cheerleading outfit was so joyful and that became something that I really valued. You look at artists like Prince, Björk, PJ Harvey, Tom Waits — when you leave their show, maybe you have a tear but you feel kind of elevated. That’s what I want from My Brightest Diamond shows; you get that full spectrum of emotions and you leave invigorated.

Does being on Asthmatic Kitty imply you’re a faith-oriented songwriter? I think that this record deals with suffering, loss, or hardship of some kind. Through this, your perception of the world changes and that to me is spiritual content. It’s me coming to terms with death and what life is about and music is a way of processing those things. (Asthmatic Kitty)