Zola Jesus - Okovi (Sacred Bones Records) 2017
Taiga was a statement, a strong one, which inspired confidence, strength, and a sense of power and control. It can even be argued to be Zola’s definitive step towards finding her own identity in a way. Okovi recognizes and embraces its predecessor, even though its nature is rather different.
Okovi changes the spotlight, and instead of the self the attention mainly goes to what’s around. It’s about what keeps us always around, the shackles (Okovi is a Slavic word for shackles) – “(…) life, to death, to bodies, to minds, to illness, to people, to birthright, to duty.” And it’s from that deep state of reflection and introspection that is born what’s arguably the most accomplished album of Zola Jesus’s career.
More fulfilling in terms of how is constructed, arranged, layered, and beautifully designed sonically, Okovi wouldn’t probably be as imposing and captivating if it wasn’t for the work previously developed with Taiga. But that’s how Nika Roza Danilova operates, one step informing the next one, always moving upward. From one of the most gratifying pop experiences from 2014 rises something even more gripping and enthralling.
The lushness of the productions feels, at times, unreal, and Zola’s voice exudes an exciting flexibility and control even with the record being as deeply emotive and humanly complex as it is. Wonderful and extremely rewarding.