Sergio Sayeg’s last album as Sessa was a charmingly breezy album that leaned into Bossa Nova, folk, and Tropicália. While there were some embellishments, it was largely a spare affair that found Sessa alone with the guitar. On his follow-up, Estrela Acesa, Sessa’s world has become doused in an aqueous and verdant sound, leaning heavier into the strains of Tropicália (particularly Tom Zé) on this record while lighting on some of the MFB and Candomblé that informed artists like José Mauro. There are still moments here where Sayeg lets his voice hang in the salted ether, alone with the patter of drums or a slight pluck of guitar, but just as often lush strings pull at the listener with a slightly somber air.

The tone of the record moves between a heady daze and a kind of out-of-body spectral feeling — a limbo that’s lost between narcotized bliss and overwhelming ennui. Sayeg’s songwriting has found an impeccable perch between mood and manifestation, a glazed sigh at a world spiraling faster than many of us can comprehend. Though, at its heart, its not the outside world that feeds the album’s dream, but love and the myopic veil that tends to throw over a person. The slow-motion blur of Estrela Acesa is a continuation of the infatuations of Grandeza, itself already struck with the sickness of love and hurtling towards the floor. The new album is more an attempt to wake from the dream, but it proves a potent struggle. Once locked into Sessa’s new soundworld, its hard to escape its siren call.

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