Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Zola Jesus : "Okovi"

After her last album I really needed her to get back to darker places. That is what happens after a weird atmospheric introduction. She combines sweeping strings with tracks that sound like they came from one of Bjork's nightmares. "Soak" is a pop song with a strong hook that proves pop does not have to be a bad word. My ex-wife used to complain that she sang in too nasal or throaty of a tone, but the clear vocal tones on " Ash to Bone" ends that argument. The atmosphere is pretty thick. So much so that in comparison to the first two actual songs, it almost feels more like an interlude. The lushly orchestrated "Witness" picks up where the previous song left off, but with a more melodic grace. The hints of soul in her voice are more fleshed out here. I prefer her more new wave side, though it's hard to make a case of the quality of singing here.

The chorus vs the verse of "Siphon" is a tug of war between her earlier work and this more mature turn to conventional pop. The song backs off from the groove til the chorus. The first beat that really makes you report to the dance floor is on "Veka" which starts of with a more introspective ambiance and builds into something more physically moving. I kept hearing that there were trap beats on this album, and I am not hearing it. The vocal refrain of "Wiseblood" carries the song. The beat is interesting and big with a tribal hint. There is an 80's sci-fi pulse to "Remains". Her voice really sounds great here. The song gets weird in the sense it feels like the 80's are colliding with 90's electronica as there is more of a break beat to this one. By the end the pace picks up and ebbs back down. The vocal production shines here, there is perfect blend of effects on her voice to compliment her natural tone with out taking away from it and creating a radio conformity.

It was a little disappointing that the last song was instrumental as well when it comes to Zola Jesus I want to hear her singing. So this is not the perfect album, but it is a welcome addition to her legacy and finds her voice continuing to live up to it's potential. I think it's a good compromise in terms of darker electronic music and pop. I don't see this propelling her into Katy Perry or even Sia status in terms of radio play, but that is not what she is going for or she would be there. I'll give this one a 9.5.

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