When I saw that Shara Worden—who now goes by Shara Nova—was releasing a new record, of course I was intrigued. Why? One of my favorite albums of all time is The Decemberists’ rock opera The Hazards of Love, in which Shara plays the part of the vengeful and headstrong Queen.
I loved both her vocals and getting to see her rock out in a live setting, fully diving into that part. So, naturally when I saw that the eccentric rock opera songstress was releasing a dance record, I had to listen.
In some ways, My Brightest Diamond doesn’t surprise too much here. “Rising Star” has an arrangement not that much unlike a St. Vincent song. But picture whoever’s dancing to this being shrouded in darkness, serenaded by an unseen choir (listen for those harmonies). “Another Chance” subtly channels Metric via some on-point analog synth—always a surefire way to this reviewer’s approval.
Although the opposite of analog synthesizers might be an acoustic piano, hearing the crunchy guitars in “You Wanna See My Teeth” is so jarring after the glimmering first four tracks that it does feel like we went to the opposite end of the musical spectrum. The way the song seems to breathe in and out, as if a person is trying to hold back a fit of rage, is very satisfying to hear.
“Supernova” is a song about love that exists in darkness and seems to parallel the sentiment thrown around by far-righters. It seems like Nova is aiming to pierce through the darkness perpetuated by xenophobia, both ideologically and sonically as her voice reverberates outward in stereo. Her vocals are at once unassuming and intimidating. Did your mom or dad ever speak to you in a way that pierced your soul when you got in trouble, quietly in a way that was a lot worse than if they had just yelled at you? That’s what this song is like. Only, the message is as enjoyable to hear as it is assertive. And again—we have a moment of loud distortion that gives us more jolts—something Nova is very adept at doing. “White Noise” exhibits that latter quality very well too—with an added eeriness that I love.
It’s a shame this record came out so late in the year. Many outlets are probably well into assembling their year end lists, and this could very well be a dark horse record of 2019. Will it be so for me? We’ll see…