Music » Critics' Picks

Zola Jesus

9 p.m. Thursday, April 14. The Billiken Club, 20 North Grand Boulevard in the Busch Student Center at Saint Louis University.

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Everything about darkling Zola Jesus is paradoxical. Her vocal depth contrasts with the girlish lisp of her speaking voice, and her simple lyrics manage to warm the soul while her delivery is capable of plunging the listener into existential darkness. Even lines that start out unforgivably trite turn into hollow nightmares. Take, for example, the song "Night," where she follows, "Don't be alarmed/In the end of the night you're in my arms," with, "I'm on my bed/my bed of stones/but in the end of the night we'll rest our bones." The opera-trained Wisconsinite, whose real name is Nika Roza Danilova, belts over a lo-fi symphony of sludge and smeared eyeliner; the 21-year-old helped usher in a saturnine '80s revival in 2009 that achieved deafening buzz in 2010. Zola Jesus' music resembles that of Throbbing Gristle and the Jesus and Mary Chain, and her contemporary kith include Wet Hair and Peaking Lights.

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