Emma Ruth Rundle's second solo album, Marked for Death, mines feelings of loss, defeat, heartache and self-destructiveness to emerge with the most honest and compelling accomplishment of an already prolific career. She shapes vast, evocative landscapes of sound, combining them with lyrics of devastating candor. Self-determination and resiliency, disguised in this case as coming to terms with overwhelming defeat, are key aspects of her personality. Transforming pain into works of great beauty makes her the compelling artist she is. A more adventurous production than her solo debut Some Heavy Ocean (2014, Sargent House), the eight compositions on Marked for Death, helmed by engineer/co-producer Sonny DiPerri, emphasize dynamics and vocal melodies, variable tuning, and a dense layering and texturing of guitars. Nevertheless, fear and self-doubt linger in the shadows of Rundle's mind, providing an incessant counterpoint to her ambitious talent and sultry, albeit de-emphasized, allure. Exemplified by the candid, unglamorous cover portrait, Marked for Death makes a persuasive argument for its creator's utter helplessness in the shadow of defeat. And though a potent dose of dark, hypnotic rock every bit as satisfying as her work with Marriages and Red Sparowes, Marked for Death's most resonant element is Emma Ruth Rundle herself, settling in to her role as singer/songwriter. Her rich voice, alternately jostled and cradled by the sounds conjured from her guitar, feels more present, perhaps even more deliberate, than ever before.