My Brightest Diamond
WHERE: 160 Berklee (Boston, MA)
WHEN: March 17, 2016
There are multiple intimacies at a My Brightest Diamond concert. There’s the setting, often in seated auditoriums or museum spaces that afford interactions with even the faintest onstage whispers. Also, the songwriting- few musicians craft lullabies that voice a mother growing “to be a poppy in the graveyard.” And in the airy, windowed expanses of Berklee College of Music’s newest venue at 160 Mass Ave., Shara “My Brightest Diamond” offered extra intimacy as she danced through the aisles and chastised the crowd for “not having enough to drink.”
Performing as part of The Celebrity Series: Stave Sessions, My Brightest Diamond offered an academic working of old and new material across two 45 minute sets. Shara described the sections as songs keyed in D, versus more recent songs where she “just decided to try standard tuning.” The music schooled audience appreciated the annotations, and Shara played the part of an etherial professor, darting from her microphone for dance interludes and penetrating eye contact. Accompanied by touring stalwarts, Nathan Lithgow (bass) and Brian Wolfe (drums), Shara maneuvered between a sparkly Huron guitar, double keyboards, and Mbira thumb piano. It was the crunching, familiar, rifts of “Golden Star” and “Inside a Boy” that grounded the set, while a cover of “Fever” (dedicated to all the “jazzbos” in the crowd) showcased the wit and charm of My Brightest Diamond. It was repaid later in the set, when Shara attempted to scrap a song whose words escaped her, but the audience urged her forward and spotted the missing lyrics.
For a solo conclusion, Shara pounded her version of Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good.” It was also an announcement of a new last name. Two weeks since announcing a split with her surname, Worden, Shara Nova used the song as a statement of fresh starts. Singing new into the old, Shara permitted a final intimacy. Whether this means more chamber pop or operatic collaborations, My Brightest Diamond is ready for the work: be changed, or be undone.