Emika Dva

English singer/songwriter/producer Ema Jolly seems determined to avoid the sophomore album slump with Dva. Her second full-length under the moniker Emika ("dva" being Czech for two) is a dense, sprawling affair. It's longer, more varied and more thoroughly composed than her eponymous 2011 debut, from the intro track with Czech soprano Michaela Šrůmová, through her delay-blanketed cover of "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak, to the quietly epic, guitar-driven "Criminal Gift" conclusion. Jolly has largely shed the post-dubstep sound that fuelled her debut, focusing instead on highlighting the purity of her classical training in more minimal arrangements, whereas bass previously washed much of it out. This leads to some stunning moments like "Dem Worlds," where the swooning strings are set nakedly against Emika's sweetly elusive voice. Granted, there are still many tracks that cry for the dance floor, like the anxious, pulsing "She Beats" and the menacing piano dub of "Sleep With My Enemies," but the album never loses its penetrating emotional resonance. Dva is a calmly delivered artistic statement, one that makes a compelling case that Emika could earn the kind of praise currently lavished upon James Blake. (Ninja Tune)