One of the most anticipated released so far this year is My Brightest Diamond's Bring Me The Workhorse. For those who may not know, My Brightest Diamond is mainly singer Shara Worden, although she does have a band backing her. It's sort of ambiguous who is "the band" and who is not--kind of like Bright Eyes isn't really just Conor Oberst. You may have heard Shara on background vocals for Sufjan Stevens' Come on Feel the Illinois. Anyway, I am one such person who has awaited his own copy of the album, and my wishes were granted a couple of weeks ago. I've been a fan of the group ever since "Riding Horses" appeared on the Asthmatic Kitty compilation, Mews Too. Since that time several of the albums songs have been leaked by blogs (and one by Asthmatic Kitty). I must tell you now that those singles give no justice to the experience had by listening to the entire album.
Those who have made a point of the operatic tones of the band (mostly in Shara Worden's vocals) are dead on. It's like a modern opera! I don't think I've heard such a justifiably dramatic album since Radiohead's Hail to the Thief, no joke! When I say "justifiably dramatic" I mean that it never feels melodramatic or like it's taking itself too seriously. It's just a serious album. Beautiful, but serious. "Disappear", a track which has been circling the internet, is the most light-hearted song on the album--and if you're familiar with the song you know it's a stretch to call it light-hearted. It rings a lot like Damien Rice's O album, equal in beauty and equal in seriousness. Obviously, the sound is much larger than that on anything Damien has done, with a full band of instruments backing Shara. Her voice reminds me of cross between an Opera singer's and Mia Doi Todd, perhaps. She just has a really strong female voice, and it's totally entrancing.
It's a terrific album, with as much beauty as a Grimm fairytale, and as much honesty as Shara's own diary might have. You simply must pick up a copy when it comes out on August 22nd.
Also, I should mention that MBD's violist, Marla Hansen, has a few original songs for download on MySpace herself. They are more than worthy of a check out, so I have provided some those for your listening pleasure as well. Marla can also be heard with Shara on Sufjan's Illinois album, and has toured with him as well. Head over to her MySpace page: here.
My Brightest Diamond - Riding Horses.mp3
My Brightest Diamond - Golden Star.mp3
Marla Hansen - Lighten Up.mp3
Marla Hansen - Wedding Day.mp3