Sessa / Estela Acesa / Mexican Summer – By Cal Gibson

Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.

Look up the definition of “languorous” in the dictionary and you’ll find: ‘characterised by tiredness or inactivity, especially of a pleasurable kind‘. Alternatively, you could just substitute Sessa‘s musical endeavours – Estrela Acesa, his second sun-kissed album for Mexican Summer, is just like his first in that “languorous” is most definitely the order of the day.

Twelve tracks, then, that are dusty, musty, slow to boil and cool as ice: Sessa’s Brasileiro beats are vintage in outlook and internationalist in their scope – this is the sound of the beaches of Bahia distilled and processed for the rest of us to enjoy. Nothing is rushed, time slows and stops, guitars are gently strummed, hearts are gently broken, kisses are politely proffered. There is a burnished romanticism at play here that makes Sessa’s compositions a real joy to engage with: this is Brasil viewed through a tinted lens of Jorge Ben, Jairzinho and Caetano Veloso: classic sounds and images repurposed for the strife and stresses of today.

Sereia Sentimental is borne aloft on a bed of keening strings – warm and dopey like an afternoon spent in a hammock with a caiparinha: drifting, drifting, space and time eliding, worries wafting away on clouds of harmonic joy. Relax and enjoy the ride. Sessa, and his small band of musicians, have you covered.

Musica is stripped back, rhythmic and wriggling. Sessa’s conversational vocals inviting you into the dance: the drum summons the dancers and the bass and percussion interlock on top. African influences inform the guitar licks – subtle and swish, understated and deadly. Great songwriting, and arranging, in essence.

Dor Fordida is horizontal in its easy design: yet again a swaying hammock seems to beckon – lazy days in the sun, eyes closed, mind roaming free. Music to lose and find yourself in. Cosmic in its embrace of life’s little pleasures. Forget the wretched nature of humanity for a while and let yourself be seduced. Brazilian to the bone and all the better for it: a narcoticised blend of all that we love about that wonderful country.

The title cut comes in last, again swathed in strings and wearing its scuffed-up heart on its sleeve. This is music-making turned in on itself, slow and syrupy, warm molasses for the mind, body and soul. MPB stuck in first gear, a freeze-framed snapshot of a sepia-tinted past, with harmonies to die for, and melodies spun from sugar. It’s confident, relaxed, beautiful and – yes – languorous. It’s summertime: it’s Sessa time. You’re going to love it. Beleza!

Sessa`s Estela Acesa will be released by Mexican Summer, on June 24th. 

You can hear some fine soulful musical selections from Cal Gibson, on the first Tuesday of every month, between 4 – 6PM UK time, on his Holy Rollers Radio Show, for Universal Rhythms. If you can’t catch it live, you`ll can find it archived here.

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