Best of 2022: Estrela Acesa - Sessa
Album: Estrela Acesa
Release Date: June 24, 2022
Link to Purchase: https://sessa.bandcamp.com/album/estrela-acesa
Canção da Cura
Pele da Esfera
Estrela Acesa, translated to "Burning Star," is the second full-length release from São Paulo-based musician Sessa (Sergio Sayeg). This album is tastefully subtle and so texturally rich at the same time. Guitar, bass, percussion, and warm lead vocals from Sessa are joined throughout the album by lush string writing and a chorus of female voices at just the right moments. Each arrangement takes its time, no song ever feels rushed, and I find myself totally immersed in the unique environment of each song. There are little surprises that give these songs so much character, like the unexpected flutes in "Ponta de Faca" or fresh percussive sounds that immediately follow in "Você é a Música".
While I strongly recommend just listening straight through the album, I do want to highlight a couple of my favorite songs. "Dor Fodida" is my personal favorite on the record. What strikes me initially is the patience and subtlety of the arrangement. Sessa really allows each musical idea and section to take its deserved time, capturing the listener in the beautiful, minimalist landscape of the song. The stripped down intro, featuring only pedaling bass and light brushes on the drums, is joined by subtle guitar strums to invite the listener in. I love the use of the strings at just the right, impactful harmonic moments. The lead guitar line towards the end of the song floats over the dreamy texture and carries me through to the more melancholy outro. "Dor Fodida" translates to "Fucking Pain" and as a listener who has a very minimal understanding of Portuguese, I never would have initially imagined that such a gentle, hopeful sounding song would be about painful emotions. The lyrics, to me, reflect on the briefness and everyday pain of life, but it doesn't feel hopeless, just more like contemplation and acceptance.
"Canção da Cura" (translated to "Healing Song") is my other favorite track on the album. I love the infectious rhythms in this song, with perfectly interlocking bass, guitar, and percussive parts that create a super meditative vibe. The texture of female voices doubling the melody at the octave also contributes to the entrancing feeling I get as a listener. The only thing I wish is that this song would go on for longer - it's the kind of groove I could find myself happily getting lost in for a while.
Estrela Acesa is undeniably one of the most beautiful albums of the year. I could go on and on about how much I love the understated, tasteful arranging, soothing sounds, and individual character of each song, but I hope you'll just give it a listen for yourself to see what I mean. As always, please remember that you can support Sessa by purchasing the album at the link above.