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“Slow…….slow……slowin’ down;” this is how you must approach My Brightest Diamond’s new EP None More Than You. And just so there’s no confusion, those are the very first words vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Shara Worden utters on the EP, ushering us into a wildly vivid dream world that serves as the theme for this short but darkly profound collection of tracks.
Those words from “Dreaming Awake,” and None More Than You offers not one, but two mixes of the song; first there’s the Son Lux Mix, an ominous rendition of the song that lyrically and musically captures the struggle of bobbing between reality and reverie. After its hushed opening lines, the tune quickly erupts into a shrill distorted version Worden’s falsetto that punctures the serenity of the mellow keyboard and string sections. This is truly the magic of this mix, because the push and pull of what Worden is pleading, arguably within herself, contrasts and also complements harmoniously with the music, easily cultivating a sense of urgency and anxiety within the listener. The pounding drum at 1:25 feels like the pulse of an anxious heart rattling against a breastbone—the only thing that assuages the beating are the self-persuading lyrics clawing us back into the crux of longing to be forever “dreaming awake.” What begins as an internal struggle thrusts outward into the external world halfway into the song. The drums begin to have more constancy as the tempo picks up and the wind section mimics the fluttery exhalation of an anxiety attack. When the lyrics ask “What is all this rushing about?” it begins to become clear that the external forces have overtaken one’s self control, and the whole song’s meaning is reflected in the struggle between hearing Worden’s operatic voice over the apocalyptic grandeur of the music. By the song’s fluttery close, Worden’s vocals are lost in a haze of bustling, brassy noise.
Providing a little context and perspective three tracks later, the Mason Jar mix of “Dreaming Awake” is far less intense but reflects the struggle as a more personal foe, the music more acutely representing anxiety as it pertains to the individual. While the Son Lux mix equates dreaming with escapism with its flurried, erratic compostion, the Mason Jar mix lulls us once more, depicting the dreaming state as a cherished and fleeting wonderland. Worden revisits these concepts again on “Dream Don’t Look Like.” This short track seems to be the rational middle ground of an ongoing psychological struggle. Vocally, Worden takes it easy on this track, as does the backing music, her vocal as ethereal as folk greats like Vashti Bunyan and Sibylle Baier. “Dreams Don’t Look Like” isn’t as harsh or dramatic as the tracks before it; its wandering spirit doesn’t crescendo and all elements are harmonious at once as the lyrics signify a somatic realization about what dreaming does and does not achieve.
The EP’s second track is probably closest to what we’ve heard from My Brightest Diamond’s prior releases, with a galactic appeal that’s contrastingly upbeat compared to the rest of the record. It removes us from the introspection found in dreamier tracks, with jaunty, cosmic synths and charming orchestral embellishments playing lightly around Worden’s soaring, percussive vocal. Lyrically, Worden here suggests that mortality is not the parameter of existence. The song is the manic high on the EP, even during its most moody moments.
And finally, we part with Worden at the appropriately titled “That Point When.” With the same drowsy quality of Bjork’s “Possibly Maybe,” harp-like strings and lush vocal harmonies sleepwalk throughout “That Point When” as it serves as the final sequence to everything posed before. Though it feels airy and conflict free, the angelic backup vocals actively contradict Worden when she poses the question do you think it’s too late?, here more equivocal to a cheeky devil on the singer’s shoulder. This song’s abrupt ending acts as a bit of a cliffhanger, by its end there is a vague sense of release but a lingering sense of indecisiveness. Its final sensations are that of questions with only hazy answers, but there’s also a lulling feeling that that’s okay after all is said and done.
My Brightest Diamond’s None More Than You EP is a gorgeously crafted journey of the psyche, sprinkled with existential musings questioning reality and fantasy and the constant limbo of the mind between the two. The EP is out now, preceding the release of a full length album due out on September 16, titled This is My Hand. She’ll embark on a three month long tour in the fall; til then you can stream the EP via Soundcloud below: