Asthmatic Kitty Records

My Brightest Diamond

Bring Me The Workhorse

Catalog: AKR023 • Cover Art: Sarah Small
Release date: August 22, 2006

Bring Me The Workhorse courageously gathers all the essential elements of classical and pop to create an album that breaks down the barriers of both worlds. These songs are simultaneously gentle and urgent, evoking moments of tremendous joy and sorrow with the magnitude of Italian opera and the modesty of a Japanese haiku.

Under Shara’s gaze, ordinary objects begin to have supernatural meanings. A robin’s nest, a grocery list, a glass bottle come to represent love, mortality, and the overwhelming need to “freak out” every once in a while. Shara is not afraid to use superlatives. But she also considers the benefits of self-control. This is most evident in the carefulness of her arrangements. Earthy drums and bass guitar are augmented by Celeste, music boxes, prepared piano, and a string quartet; each song is scrupulously composed and arranged by Shara herself.

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Shara’s songwriting reconciles the high art of opera with the low-brow of the folk song by compounding them into a form that is both as sublime as it is pragmatic. The music is set in transcendent landscapes familiar to Wagner’s operas, but it is also planted firmly in the materials of everyday life: dirt, tree branches, bird feathers and thrown away charms. Strings and chimes beckon mysterious apparitions, but Shara’s tone of voice is dead serious.

Almost every song pivots around a moment of crisis, distilling stories to their most distressing points of contact: a phone call, an injured horse, a dragonfly caught in a spider’s web. Shara doesn’t share all the information — just the stuff that matters. The effect is a sensational compression of time, in which an entire event is summarized in a single note. This, of course, is the essence of opera. But My Brightest Diamond is much more than musical theater.