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Okovi by Zola Jesus.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 8, 2017
LabelSacred Bones
  • Zola Jesus
  • Alex DeGroot
  • James Kelly
Zola Jesus chronology
Singles from Okovi
  1. "Exhumed"
    Released: June 7, 2017
  2. "Soak"
    Released: July 11, 2017
  3. "Siphon"
    Released: August 29, 2017

Okovi (English: Shackles) is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Zola Jesus. It was released on September 8, 2017 by Sacred Bones Records.[3] The album was written in Danilova's hometown in Wisconsin, where she retreated after dealing with depression and dark times experienced by her close friends.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[5]
The A.V. ClubA-[6]
Consequence of SoundB+[7]
DIY3/5 stars[9]
Drowned in Sound7/10[10]
MusicOMH4/5 stars[11]
The Observer4/5 stars[12]
Under the Radar8/10 stars[13]

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 79, based on 25 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[4] Emma Madden of Clash praised the album, saying "the production is absolutely masterful. The conviction is assured; the weightiest of subjects: that of 'life' and 'death' are tackled and shackled by Zola expertly."[8] Pitchfork's Sasha Geffen said "Okovi showcases the searing, fully-formed music of Nika Danilova, an album of close personal experiences rendered into urgent goth-pop songs as emotional as they are necessary."[1] AllMusic critic Heather Phares called it "a deeply comforting album," further stating: "Okovi is some of Zola Jesus' purest-sounding, most profound music in years."[5] Emily Mackay of The Observer called it "an album to light the way through the darkest hours."[12]

Writing for Drowned in Sound, Pieter J Macmillan said "Okovi won't topple Stridulum II as the most essential Zola Jesus record, but it's another excellent record that once again showcases a unique and powerful voice."[10] Under the Radar's Billy Hamilton described the album as "a deeply emotive and enthralling journey."[13] Lisa Wright of DIY wrote: "Heavy with feeling throughout, it makes for a record that's often a tough listen. But for cathartically allowing herself to tackle life's most difficult subjects, you've got to applaud her.[9] Sam Shepherd of MusicOMH stated that "sometimes it sounds bleak, sometimes it sounds glorious, but it's in embracing the full gamut of life experience, as Zola Jesus does here that nothing becomes everything. The shackles might still be on, but this is the sound of an artist reveling in freedom."[11]


Publication Accolade Rank Ref.
Cosmopolitan Best Albums of 2017
Drowned in Sound Favourite Albums of 2017
Pitchfork The 50 Best Albums of 2017
PopMatters The 60 Best Albums of 2017
Stereogum 50 Best Albums of 2017

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Nika Roza Danilova.

4."Ash to Bone"2:07
11."Half Life"4:49
Total length:39:59


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Okovi.[19]

  • Zola Jesus – vocals, co-production
  • Alex DeGroot – co-production, mixing
  • James Kelly – co-production (track 6)
  • Ted Byrnes – percussion
  • Julia Sonmi Heglund – double bass
  • Shannon Kennedy – cello, electronics
  • Lauren Elizabeth Baba – viola
  • Leah Zegar – violin
  • Rachel Grace – violin
  • Heba Kadry – mastering
  • Jesse Draxler – artwork


Chart (2017) Peak
US Dance/Electronic Albums (Billboard)[20] 8


  1. ^ a b c Geffen, Sasha (6 September 2017). "Zola Jesus: Okovi Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  2. ^ Jenkins, Dafydd (5 September 2017). "Zola Jesus - Okovi". theweereview.com. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Zola Jesus: Okovi". Sacred Bones Records. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Reviews for Okovi by Zola Jesus". Metacritic. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  5. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "Okovi - Zola Jesus". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  6. ^ Partridge, Kenneth (6 September 2017). "Okovi is pure, unadulterated Zola Jesus". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  7. ^ Corcoran, Nina (5 September 2017). "Zola Jesus - Okovi". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  8. ^ a b Madden, Emma (8 September 2017). "Zola Jesus - Okovi". Clash. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  9. ^ a b Wright, Lisa. "Zola Jesus - Okovi". DIY. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  10. ^ a b Macmillan, Pieter J (6 September 2017). "Album Review: Zola Jesus - Okovi". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  11. ^ a b Shepherd, Sam (24 September 2017). "Zola Jesus - Okovi". MusicOMH. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  12. ^ a b Mackay, Emily (10 September 2017). "Zola Jesus: Okovi review – a perfect hybrid". The Observer. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  13. ^ a b Hamilton, Billy (7 September 2017). "Zola Jesus: Okovi (Sacred Bones) Review". Under the Radar. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  14. ^ "Best Albums of 2017". Cosmopolitan. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  15. ^ "Drowned in Sound's Favourite Albums of 2017". Drowned in Sound. 22 November 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  16. ^ "The 50 Best Albums of 2017". Pitchfork. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  17. ^ "The 60 Best Albums of 2017". PopMatters. 11 December 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  18. ^ Stereogum Staff (5 December 2017). "The 50 Best Albums of 2017". Stereogum. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  19. ^ Okovi (CD liner notes). Zola Jesus. Sacred Bones Records. 2017.CS1 maint: others (link)
  20. ^ "Zola Jesus - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 27 September 2017.