Shara Nova's music as My Brightest Diamond always served as a multi-dimensional muse for her eclectic songwriting and production. Nothing was off limits as her operatically trained vocals found their way into settings of moody rock, spare lullabies, and meticulously arranged chamber pop. Following a time of major life shifting, fifth album A Million and One marks another wide swing for My Brightest Diamond, as the songs move towards darker electronic landscapes and nod to the techno of her hometown of Detroit. Her 2014 album This Is My Hand had elements of electronic production, but the distant synth arpeggios and steady pulse of album opener "It's Me on the Dancefloor" point towards a decidedly more club-ready reading of Nova's sounds. Multi-tracked backing vocals and a glitchy lead synth breakdown inject some signature My Brightest Diamond abstraction into what could be an otherwise straightforward dance pop tune. Much of the album follows this cold but playful exploration, with spare electronics interacting with live drums and distant walls of vocals. Written in the wake of a divorce, themes of conflict, rebirth, and self-reliance come up repeatedly. "Champagne" builds tension on a searing electronic bassline, and Nova sounds like a phoenix rising from the ashes as she sings of coming back strong and unstoppable after the dust settles on a turbulent relationship. At times, the tone gets a few degrees warmer, as on the love-struck techno-pop of "Supernova." More spacious and relaxed, this song and "Mother" offer a brief detour from the frosty vibe that defines most of A Million and One. Twisting her art pop impulses into electro-funk and minimal dance music styles results in some interesting and unexpected deconstructions of My Brightest Diamond's sounds. While not so far removed from earlier work that it could be mistaken for another project, the album chronicles a distinctive shapeshifting from a constantly evolving artist. Heartache, triumph, anger, and resolution all feel reported on from behind a melting wall of ice, drowned out ever so slightly by the sound of a late-night party raging somewhere in the distance.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas