Shara Worden has had a busy 2014! My Brightest Diamond just released her new album This Is My Hand on Tuesday, Sept. 16th via Asthmatic Kitty Records.  This marks her fourth studio album, and the first since 2011.  Along with her album comes a worldwide tour over the next four months spanning from the US to Germany, Sweden, Netherland, Ireland, the UK, and back, including a stop in Philly at World Cafe Live this coming Tuesday (Sept. 23rd).  Tickets are still available here.

This Is My Hand provides such jems as “Lover Killer,” which gives us a unique look into Shara’s cinematic sounds and mystery storybook lyrics.  I went in with new ears listening to MBD, having never heard Shara’s music before, and I was intrigued by the context of the music.  She’s not your typical female musician singing about relationship problems and sad things.  Shara’s music provides a different approach, painting a picture in your mind of the story she’s telling, partnered with big band arrangements, and operatic vocals, similar to that of Florence and The Machine.

This all can be fully experienced in the new video for “Pressure” here. /

I for one am looking forward to experiencing My Brightest Diamond live next week (review to follow).  In the meantime, I got a few moments out of Shara’s busy schedule to answer some questions about her inspirations for the new release and her tour ahead:

1. You’ve traveled/lived around the US throughout your life. How do you feel that has affected all your musical influences?  

I lived in 9 states by the time I was 18, so I think moving around, I was exposed to a lot of different music and had to adapt or at least was influenced by wherever it was that I moved.  My uncle is an incredible classical pianist and an incredible jazz pianist, and my father as well was a classical accordion player and a choral conductor in church.  Dad would bring home Michael Jackson and Joan Jett records from the library too, so I think it was a unique environment and it certainly affected me to grow up with such variety.

2. What inspiration did you draw from for your 4th album? Is there a particular story behind it you’d like to share?

I was reading this book called “The World in Six Songs” by Daniel J. Levitin and thinking about these 6 themes throughout history, of what role songs have in our lives and I was also thinking about the “tribe” and what the modern tribe looks like, where we are collectively making music and how we might have a concert experience together, so of course (ha!) this lead me to the marching band!  Because the marching band is something a lot of people have had access to in school and so I just imagined us all getting our saxophones and trumpets out of the dusty closet, coming together around a fire and dancing, telling stories, hearing from the shaman and this music was my effort to create something for that kind of context.

3. Your music and lyrics are very unique. What interests you most when you write and what do you find influences your writing for songs?

I started out writing songs based on these 6 themes and generally speaking I did hit all the themes Daniel laid out, but in the last month of making the record, even with all the music finished, I felt like some of the lyrics were not hitting me in the gut and so I went back to the drawing board and rewrote a bunch of the lyrics to maintain the initial idea but to make myself more vulnerable, and the lyrics less conceptual and more personal.

4. You’ve got a worldwide tour ahead of you the remainder of the year. How do you feel your music is perceived around the globe?

Wow!  I think it depends so much about the context that people have experienced what I do.  I have three different hats.  Shara the composer, the singer and the songwriter.  In singer mode, I sing other people’s music and so that’s a really different thing than seeing my baroque opera that I wrote last year, or seeing a rock show.  Hopefully I’m building a relationship with my audience where they can trust me more like a curator that whatever it’s going to be, they will at least find it interesting.

5. Random Question (since I always throw these in): What’s your favorite tour food? / What’s your favorite city for food while on tour?

Usually I jump for my Thai curries when I’m in the middle of the country, and when I’m on the coasts I go for sushi!  I’d say San Francisco!