This debut album, essentially the work of the Michigan raised, Shari Warden is a journey to beauty through bleakness and darkness. The latter element is incorporated in the off-kilter, winding instrumentals, the like of which has served Bjork well in the past. As well as creeping vocal approach akin to Polly Harvey and, to a lesser extent, an early Kathryn Williams. The insular ‘Golden Star’ and subtle, atmospheric longing cry out of ‘Gone Away’, represents a deep touch. This shows that Warden is not afraid to scour the entirety of her feelings and experiences to ensure that her true self is captured in these personal touches.
Bold bass-lines allow the P J Harvey in this searching artist to prowl around with impunity in ‘Freakout’. A slow Four Tet styled ambient, instrumental build slowly turns on the intensity for the contained outbursts of eerie eccentricity. A feeling that continues into ‘We Were Sparkling’, but it is dumbed-down by the slightly more soulful vocals and positively tinged lyrics. Theatrical backing pushes, builds up the feeling and contrasts sharply with the creaky touches, toying with emotions like a true temptress. An anti-folk, Regina Spektor flavoured kick is drawn into ‘Disappear’, giving a bit more life and a slight jungle rumble to this foraging full length.
The influence of working with Surfjan Stevens whose record label are releasing this debut (Shari provided backing vocals for his ‘Illinois’ album), has had an impact on the breadth and depth of the musical arrangements on proud show here. The slow percussion rumble climb and slight war-cry impact of ‘The Good & The Bad Guy’, is symptomatic of this collaboration. A more mature debut album is going to be difficult to find this year.