If you caught Sufjan Stevens during his tour in support of last year's excellent Illinois, you might have fixated on any of the cheerleaders he brought along. One of them might have been Shara Worden, who records as My Brightest Diamond.
She's trained in the classics -- opera, jazz, cabaret -- and Bring Me the Workhorse is her first proper full-length under that moniker. All the references here point to P.J. Harvey, Tara Jane O'Neil, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Regina Spektor and Antony. But My Brightest Diamond doesn't stand out among that crowd.
Sure, it might be true that all artists are derivative. Still, the best of them leave an identifying stamp. Worden is clearly an apt vocalist, but her operatic training might get the best of her. It's hard at times to discern what she's saying, and although she's passionate, I was never convinced that I should care enough to pay attention. The song arrangements aren't the problem. It's the delivery that needs some work.
When Worden calms down and gets sultry ("Gone Away") she's much more doable. But those times are few and far between. It's hard for me to think of this as much more than indie-cabaret kitsch overkill.
"Something of an End" MP3
"Dragonfly" videoLive performance
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