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My Brightest Diamond: A Thousand Shark's Teeth

My Brightest Diamond: A Thousand Shark's Teeth

Label:Asthmatic Kitty
Release Date:2008

By Al Shipley | Posted 8/6/2008

Shara Worden is a classically trained vocalist who sings in an exotic, seemingly unplaceable accent that is actually just the affectation of a girl who grew up in Michigan. But her music, under the name My Brightest Diamond, is sweeping and dramatic enough to work such a contrivance to its advantage, draping her silky voice with a brooding backdrop of string arrangements and her own muscular guitar work. On her confident second album, A Thousand Shark's Teeth, Worden comes further out of the shadow of frequent collaborator Sufjan Stevens with an identity and sound now entirely distinct from her labelmate's twee geography lessons.

Shark's Teeth was conceived as a gentler, more orchestral companion to My Brightest Diamond's 2006 debut, Bring Me the Workhorse--both were written in the same time frame. Ultimately, however, the ratio of guitars to violins is much the same, and Worden makes much subtler adjustments to her band's sound on Shark's Teeth. In lieu of rock-oriented drumming, songs such as "Like a Sieve" and "Apples" waft over a minimal bed of marimba and sizzling cymbals, taking more cues from Rain Dogs-era Tom Waits than the grandiose classic-rock leanings that earned Workhorse so many Jeff Buckley comparisons. The end result is, unfortunately, an album with much less immediate charm than its predecessor. But even at her most idiosyncratic and ethereal, Worden never floats off into space without leaving behind a vivid lyric or a striking melody.

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