My Brightest Diamond All Things Will Unwind

[Asthmatic Kitty; 2011]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: chamber pop, protest, mid-life
Others: Tom Waits, Sufjan Stevens, Björk, Laurie Anderson, Detroit, the Psalms & the Synoptic Gospels

Eleven Theses On All Things Will Unwind by My Brightest Diamond1

“I feel on edge all my days in the sun, thank God.” (R.B. Kitaj)

One. “Love binds the world.” This unfathomable thought. However, as Love binds the world (it’s possible), the world does not bind in love. Herbert McCabe famously wrote, “If you do not love, you will not be alive; if you love effectively, you will be killed.” Shara keeps singing: “Forever and ever and ever and ever and ever/ Forever and ever, forever and ever…” This recognition is her freedom.

Two. A new mother, mortal: Is it improper to call this album mid-life? I mean no disrespect, and this is no diagnosis. If nothing else, then at least Shara, death-haunted, is holding her new world,

Three. “This glorious day the Earth is shaking/ Hallelujah, hallelujah.” The modern projects in theodicy began with an Earthquake. Questions increased, alongside mechanisms of brutality, in precision. Answers dissolved into prayers or sighs. Perhaps this has nothing to do with the question of evil outright, but of ‘eternal,’ inevitable conflict. It is, fundamentally, a question of physics: no two bodies can occupy the same space at the same time. All lives, present, push out all others and long for their return. But longing is a fucked up mess. Bound, apart, we join in unending hymns in hope, nonetheless.

Four. Love as mortal, time-dragging, is forced into the dialectic of memory and forgetting. Falling, over and over, into love: again and again. (Shara, naturally, remembers the body before the idea.) “It takes a lifetime to learn how to love,” sings doubt, sings faith. As Love ‘holds and maintains,’ we lock ourselves inside the room for its sake and wait it out.

Five. It takes courage to face the death of the self. Paul knew this as well as Heidegger – at least in theory. “Be brave, dear one,” the speaker says to herself. One is reminded here, immediately, of Sufjan’s “Vesuvius” or Greek choral odes. But it more closely resembles the voice of God speaking to the prophets: you will not be well received, Beloved Precarity; but I am here.

Six. (a) There is a correlation between limitation and salvation. (b) Bravery does not root the fantasies of sovereignty.

Seven. Re-Occupy Detroit!

Eight. Know your enemies: “Bankers, lawyers, thieves, governors, mayors, police…” “It is good to rely upon others, for no one can bear this life alone.” (Holderlin) But to rely upon nihilists for sustenance – be it individual, domestic or communal – is suicidal. So Shara threatens back. Slams.

Nine. Lord help you: The consolations reach out like the Beatitudes. “Keep yourself low but not too low.” How do you convince those with the least that they’re most able? There is a myth that suggests willing oneself into poverty is harmful. (Indeed, a legacy of racism and imperial proselytizing complicates this beyond measure.) But only the body protests. Money just recirculates.

Ten. “Everything is in line/ All things will unwind.” How does the threat dance with the promise? Answer: Slowly. Too slowly.

Eleven. Somewhere between sentimentality and admiration, between nursery rhyme and hymn, between natality and fatality, in the midst of the possibility of possibility, there is the hope of redemption. And somewhere, Shara tells us, there is a voice singing: “You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay.” Is it all as simple as listening? I hear the pump organ and the voices rising.

1. Or, instead, this album is a consistent, expansive collection of modestly experimental pop songs (covering familiar aesthetic territory, and exploring broad and intertwining personal/familial, political, theological, and philosophical themes), and well worth repeated listens and eventual internalization. Shara Worden and her collaborators, the yMusic Ensemble, deserve praise for what they’ve done on All Things Will Unwind. Here is my own scattered response, song by song.

Links: My Brightest Diamond - Asthmatic Kitty

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