Operatically-trained Wisconsinite Nika Danilova is no stranger to classical music. Her childhood isolation in the wilderness (she basically lived with her family in the middle of a forest) led to her discovery and attraction to the tumultuous drama of Opera at an early age. Combined with her rustic goth surroundings ("My dad was a hunter so there would constantly be animal parts all over the place") the roots of what would soon become Zola Jesus began to grow. Inspired by anxiety, Ian Curtis, Diamanda Galás, bubblegum pop and classical arias, Danilova and her faintly sacrilegious moniker began inciting hurricanes of noise. It's rife with emotion to tear your ribcage asunder, the ominous jet shades of neo-goth and a blood-choking avant-pop streak. It's grandiose and beautiful.

Her most recent studio album, Conatus was released way back in 2010. Since then, she's done other things, dabbled in other projects: perhaps most notably with industrial producer Foetus (aka JG Thirlwell) on a set for NYC's Guggenheim museum. Her upcoming record, Versions, are the recorded fruits of that experiment. Laid down with the help of revered string maestros, the Mivos Quartet, it's a compilation of self-covers, stripped back and away from their electronic base. The flurry of synth-flesh is chiselled away to reveal a stark emotional core, right back to the fossilised pop that she unearths in her solo material.

It's all still unmistakeably Zola Jesus. Her voice is stellar, capable of blasting seething rage down your lugholes or leaking tearjerking tones into the atmosphere. Danilova's unmatched pipes were always one of the main draws of her music - its specific timbre is unique to her - and she conveys emotion so much better than any pop singer you'll hear (probably due to the ingrained operatic nature). Even if her lyrics are sometimes clouded in the moment of the sound, you'll still walk away soaked in the feelings she infers with a deft flick of her vocal chords. Versions won't appeal to those who don't like Zola Jesus anyway, but for those who are already loyal fans, it's a potent look at a new side to the singer-songwriter.

'Avalanche (Slow)' is a luscious, verdant bout of tundra-imbued atmospherics. The violins evoke images of soaring seabirds above Icelandic coasts; stern cellos provide a firm basis for pastoral flourishes. The most noticeable feature about the lead single is just how organic it sounds compared to the original. Danilova and Thirlwell haven't just emulated the sounds on the prime version, they've injected it with a new meaning, a new lust for life and a new façade. It's basically a different song. 'Seekir', the stormy anthem from Conatus, gets a reworking also. It's not as different from the original - there's still synths and percussion floating around - but the booming strings add a fresh level of face-punching drama. It's a bigger, less sparse cut. 'Hikikomori' is also bolstered by the string inclusions; the melodies are more obvious and instead of Danilova shouldering all the focus, violin hooks get a look-see.

There's still a whole heap of drama here. Versions does provide change to Danilova's much-loved catalogue of noise, be it tonally or merely instrumentally, and gives us a shiny way to look at the songs she's created. Thirlwell's presence is most felt on 'In Your Nature', 'Sea Talk' and 'Seekir' - he surely had a hand in the arrangements, but his industrial credentials show their face during the punchier aspects of Versions.

It's very pleasant record, and far less emotionally intense (it's less dark) than its predecessors, but therein lies its fault - we love Danilova for her intensity and her sinister chants. It's got clout, but in a different way; where Stridulum II was a bewitching, experimental wave of noise, Versions is a wedding reception soundtrack, focusing on the bright side rather than looming in the dank shadows. It's pretty, gorgeous even, but the focus moves somewhat off the theatrics. As mentioned previously, this is unlikely to woo anyone not already familiar with Zola Jesus, but for those already besotted, regardless of how this is different or not different, it will be just the stopgap they needed whilst waiting for the next tsunami of original material.