…My Very Heavy Hand
Once in a while, you come across music that is so non-categorizable that you can’t form an opinion. You can’t say you don’t like it or that it’s without merit, but at the same time you can’t say you want to listen to it again. My Brighest Diamond is such an act. Shara Worden mixes chamber music, prog rock, operatic stylings and cabaret into one baffling blur of sounds. On her fifth album, This is My Hand, this kitchen-sink delivery continues, and the experience is dictated wholly by the listener’s expectations and mood.
The opening track, “Pressure,” exemplifies this approach. It begins with a drum roll, leading in to some woodwinds, followed by Worden’s mystical voice backed by some synth sounds. The beats veer and change through the pre-chorus and chorus, and it’s difficult to keep track of the fact that this is one song. “Before the Words” is a little more sing-songy, refreshingly calming the twists from the first song.
The tunes weave in and out of this pattern. “This is My Hand” is catchy, while “Lover Killer” leans too heavily on percussion. “I am not the Bad Guy” teases with a straight beat before betraying it with an ephemeral vocal that ultimately saves itself with a catchy refrain. “Looking at the Sun” is the least rock-and-roll of them all, with Worden going full chamber music.
Throughout it all, the tone is one of desperation and seriousness, as if Worden expects what she says to be of grave importance to her circle of friends. This adds to the weight of the music, making it unrelatable, and impatient listeners will move on. Decemberists’ fans will recognize Worden’s voice from The Hazards of Love, where she played the role of The Queen. This is My Hand shows the other side of Worden, one where she indulges and decorates, and if you’re not on board then prepare to be lost.