Review: My Brightest Diamond offers 'A Million And One' reasons to give her new album a listen
Shara Nova returns as My Brightest Diamond with new studio album 'A Million And One' via Rhyme & Reason Records in a deeply personal narrative of signature soundscapes
Shara Nova has always pioneered to be a trendsetter. Be it in her transition from classical music to creating a signature sound of her own, or her ability to create dazzling, shapeshifting musicscapes from the most basic of elements, Nova has often given people a multi-dimensional listening experience unlike anything ever heard before.
And that is exactly what she seeks to do in her latest record, 'A Million and One', as well. Walking the tightrope between being a classically trained vocalist, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and a frontrunner in genre-bending music, Nova sparkles in her latest offering.
And it comes as no surprise, given her encounters with music across spectrums. Hailing from a family of travelling evangelicals, exposed to gospel music and then settling in Detroit when hip-hop and soul ruled the airwaves in the early '90s, Nova draws from a range of influences and has dabbled in musical extremes — from opera to rock.
When the singer-songwriter moved to New York and formed her pet project — My Brightest Diamond in 2006, she released her critically acclaimed debut album 'Bring Me The Workhorse' that quickly made headlines in the music circuit.
Four albums and over a decade later, 'A Million And One' is an attempt to capture the personal transformation of the artist. Nova, literally translated to 'new' in Latin, pays tribute to the varied influences over the years with new music of her own.
While the 10-track record departs from the lush orchestration of My Brightest Diamond's earlier works, it ebbs and flows with a new exploration of raw emotions and soul-searching vibes. The album, produced along with Grammy-nominated producer Anthony 'The Twilite Tone' Khan, has a 10-song set mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Andrew Scheps.
The new full-length studio album, released via Rhyme & Reason Records, kicks off with the lead single 'It's Me On The Dance Floor' and is a nod to people who can't dance!
Nova, herself, is not a dancer, but that doesn't stop her from singing about being in the spotlight there. Opening with a hypnotic somber vocal play, the song quickly shows the musical extremes Nova is capable of. Everything from off-beat rhythms, bizarre notes, art pop scales and reverb dances are present in the background.
The song also shows off her dynamic vocals. Coming out strong in the album launcher, the buzzy background synths, the funky guitar riffs and the spectacular drumwork by Earl Harvin, prepares listeners for a stellar rampwalk show.
'Rising Star' ropes in some chilling background vocals, led by neat beatwork and the synth used to full measure. What steals the spotlight in the illuminating track is an infectious chorus line that almost makes you want to sing along. The orchestration is uplifting and the track is almost anthemic in its rough framework.
"I will call you my sweet thing / I will hold you like I'm never leaving you," croons Nova in the dreamy 'Another Chance'. Almost ethereal in its wake, the pace slow swings in an almost jive-ish pace. The easy listen, with bright tones, catchy grooves and a foot-tapping rhythm patch, makes for the type of song you will throw your hands up in the air to in a big concert crowd, swaying to the high-on-emotions tune, convincing you to "Give another chance at love".
After that, it's time to raise a toast with the driving electro-pop 'Champagne'. But the track doesn't hold back from dishing out a solid movement of trippy sounds. It's enough to keep the party going on a sonic high alone! Easing up on the tone throttle, the song sets the mood for the album's middle piece. The song is high on energy, bubbly and melodically ecstatic.
The record's middle track opens with an off-beat vocal section that is fashionably glamorous in tone and texture. Launched with a single bass drum set, 'You Wanna See My Teeth' reveals itself quickly to be a twisted, headphone-tuned meditation on the death of Trayvon Martin.
The cleverly crafted electronic drive in the song peaks with an eclectic drum segment, that fades into a harmonic finish.
Nova returns to the melody in 'A Million Pearls' bringing things down to a crawl. The sparkling art pop rendition is perfect in every sense — every note is nuanced, full of meaning and depth — where Nova bares her soul.
She sings that she's "Proud to be found on an ocean floor / Just one of the million pearls." The track is a soul-searching nod to the escapade her sounds have provided over the years and the healing, uplifting nuance of her soundscape.
The garage pop, oddly-patterned 'Sway' does exactly what its moniker promises — making you settle into a club-driven beachside night open-air party. The ambiance set, Nova's vocals glide flawlessly on the shifting sands of a coconut grove with sudden interjections of a heavily distorted guitar, which is disturbingly enriching.
'Supernova' takes time to do it, but when the song does explode — it happens in astronomic scales. The track is spacey, drifting and colliding in multiple directions, but it manages to hold the listener in its starry-paced grasp.
The closing segment is where the star breaks out in a spectrum of colors and tones that take you across a vibrant sonicscape. It's not a bleak universe with Nova.
The feminine 'Mother' sees Nova dig deeper and bring out some raw, honest emotions. The bass stays a steady jam with the rest of the instrumentation dropping in at odd intervals. As the song progresses, it loses its demureness, sheds all the layers and delivers a listening experience that makes souls connect.
'White Noise' is oddly set apart, highlighting Nova's signature to go out with a bang. Random notes, abrupt hoots and catcalls, high pitched notes juxtaposed with low ebbs, sudden tone changes — the album closer adds a little of everything that Nova encompasses in her music, leaving listeners on 'a million and one' high!
Excited to announce new headline shows in May! Tickets go on sale December 14th at 10 AM local time via https://t.co/NQnO06AGIk— My Brightest Diamond (@MyBrightestDmnd) 11 December 2018
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1. It's Me On The Dance Floor
2. Rising Star
3. Another Chance
5. You Wanna See My Teeth
6. A Million Pearls
10. White Noise