Shara Worden, the queen behind My Brightest Diamond, has found it. Whatever it happens to be is evident merely in the titles of her records. On her third solo outing, entitled All Things Will Unwind, the darkened noir corners of her two previous albums, Bring Me the Workhouse and A Thousand Shark's Teeth, are flooded with light. The overbearing tension of her work up until this album was without question, proof of her astounding talent, her ability to draw a heavy and beautiful shadow over her world, although one often fond of remix-ready burdenings. On All Things Will Unwind we see a conscious simplification, as she doesnt play any instrument on this record that can't fit in a suitcase. This restriction allows focus on the divine delivery of her classically trained voice and the potency of lyrics to accommodate it.
Per the press, the songs carry lyric themes such as class differences, the complexity of the atom, the beginning and end of time, and the experience of becoming a mother"—essentially the universal struggles of politics, science, history, and family. Shara is joined by yMusic, the symphonic chamber pop ensemble famous for fleshing out indie folk's greatest from the likes of Bon Iver, Matt Berninger, Antony & The Johnsons, etc. The result is equal parts fairy goddess and polytonal astuteness. Each song is based around a motion of let's say, a butterfly, as it flits from interwoven and contradictory melodies graciously. All of the songs do not surpass the usual time length of a pop song, roughly three or four minutes, yet each piece reads as a complete and perfected composition, translating to satisfaction for the listener.
"We Added it Up", the album's opener, resides in a game of opposites. The rich jazziness of Shara's voice contradicts at the outset when she says "If I was loud / then you were SHHHH". It is a playful composition of flute, bongo drum, harp, violin, oboe, and suggests an arsenal-rich Joanna Newsom. Shifting into a new register, the song evolves into an acapella call-and-response repetition of the lyrics "Love binds the world." While slightly tinny, here we can see Shara's impossibly high soprano from the starting gun and are able to realize what it can (and will) do. "Reaching Through to the Other Side" feels likes a cold landscape speckled with menacing woodland enemies. The backing instrumentation is provocative and confident, relying upon simmering oboe and grandiose percussion. The crescendo comes as Shara asks "This finite place / is it limitless?", stretching her range into an effusion which feels perfectly natural.
Shara is just as comfortable with beauty as with the eerie. "Be Brave" is a foreboding militaristic ballad in which Shara prepares for war "donning [her] mask and finger bells". The prickly tune relies upon bells, the omnipotent horns, and deliberate cymbal crashes, unwinding as if she were a sinister puppeteer, managing a troupe of marionettes. "She Does Not Brave the War" is next. "Be Brave" and "She Does Not Brave the War" relate to one another as a mini epic—first a rousing call to action and then a heart-dissolving assertion that she did not survive the war. This forgotten heroine, through her effort and (I would assume) death, "saves the day." Shara's literary prowess shines through, taking on the role of narrative historian through inflation and retreat.
"Ding Dang" is the most experimental and staccato piece, functional as a realm for breathing and thinking until it cracks into its full body. "There's A Rat" and "High Low Middle" embrace themes of culture and class. With a similar animation and swing to both, each track is adorned by the eccentric bravado of the accompaniment a chirp of the flute, a parp of the bassoon underlining Worden's voice and words. "I Have Never Loved Someone" is gush-worthy and the perfect end to the closely polished tracks of before. It is a simple lullaby to her new child, guided only with the distant creaking of a cradle and thoughtful accordion swell. All I want to say is it's absolutely spell-binding and Shara's last words are gently "You're okay." I entirely believe her.