All Things Will Unwind, the third studio album by My Brightest Diamond, bears the marks of a true blue perfectionist. Shara Worden, the multi-instrumentalist mastermind behind MBD and former touring member of Sufjan Stevens’ Illinoisemakers band, applies a bit of sandpaper to the lengthy and occasionally meandering excursions of her past two records, winding up with an exquisitely tight and gorgeously detailed orchestral-bent indie record.
At its best, All Things plays like a Wonka-esque guided tour through a multicolored landscape of every-flavored timbres. Most songs have a dozen or more instruments flourishing, seamlessly, in and out of the picture. Worden, who has a bachelor’s degree in classical vocal performance from the University Of North Texas, flexes her academy-honed vocal cords, tackling everything from operatic drama (“Be Brave”) to silly folk narratives (“There’s A Rat”), maintaining the same honeyed contours throughout.
The record’s more consciously art-rock-oriented songs, “Reaching Through To The Other Side” and “High Low Middle,” where Worden grounds her high-flying vocal and string arrangements with a drum kit and flashes of electric guitar, are the stand-outs here, adding a bit of muscle and propulsion to the otherwise feather-soft compositions. There are unpleasantly cutesy moments, like “There’s A Rat,” that wander into unwelcome twee territory and are likely to get skipped over in favor of the wound-up tension of dialoguing duet “Everything Is In Line” and the soaring and epic creation story “In The Beginning.”
All Things Will Unwind is a triumph for Worden and her My Brightest Diamond project. Although none of the songs clock in at more than four and a half minutes, they all manage to contain a fantasy novel’s worth of wonder without feeling corny or cramped. It’s an elegantly lush record, brimming with imagination, that was no doubt slaved over in the studio yet sounds entirely natural. The work of a perfectionist, no doubt.