Listeners could be forgiven for categorizing Nika Rosa Danilova, a/k/a Zola Jesus, as a mope-tastic downer, since older songs like "Night" and "Sea Talk" have used her weapons-grade pipes in service of a Dark Lord of song. But judging from her latest album, that was then, this is now: Conatus still finds Ms. Nika bouncing her plaintive wails off canyon walls, except that this time she combines string-laden melodrama with shimmering beauty to create wondrous towers of isolated joy. Danilova seems to have purposefully switched her black robes for white, like a mythic version of Ally Sheedy's Breakfast Club goth-to-norm transformation. On track after track, we hear the former scuzz-goth princess returning to love with a pinched crack in her voice not unlike Bonnie Tyler circa "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Turn around, bright eyes, indeed: clarion calls like "Avalanche" and album closer "Collapse" drag you into the white light like an archangel softly frying your brain in dizzy ecstasy. "I'm the only one that sticks around/When they call your name out of a crowd," she cries on the torch-song "Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake." Having forsaken hopelessness for the eternal flicker of love's fire, Danilova has crafted perhaps the year's most emphatically romantic record — defiant, loyal, indomitable.
ZOLA JESUS + XANOPTICON | Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave, Allston | October 17 @ 8 pm | $13 | 18+ | 617.779.0140