Sunday 27 August 2023

'Sequel' by Hanna Sikasa

'Sequel' marks the new album release from German artist, Hanna Sikasa, who uses the opportunity to brilliantly build upon the groundwork as laid out by her 'Origin' debut release from 2019.

Credited throughout the project as singer, songwriter, musician and composer, Sikasa's boundless creativity and talents seem to know little restriction as she seems to relish the new challenges and opportunities when it comes to making music.  While Sikasa's two releases to date appear separated by up to four years, the two albums share an intrinsic connection that sees 'Sequel' as a beautifully evolved project that takes the ideas and concepts from 'Origin' into inspired new directions.

Released independently in 2019, Sikasa's eleven-track album was very much a statement of intent that introduced her innovative perspective to new listeners.  With a sound rooted in jazz, Sikasa proved adept at steering her music into neighbouring realms like neo-soul exuding charm and personality in the process.  The release of 'Sequel' affords Sikasa the chance to not only develop upon specific songs from its predecessor - like 'Stars Are Still', 'Two' and 'Bird' - but usher in incredible new songs for the companion piece.  

'Beautiful Jungle' serves as a perfect example to surmise a natural evolution for Sikasa as well as the song itself.  With the original 'Origin' iteration of the song already a sublime gem, this year's updated version presents a far more rich and immersive musical arrangement that is just exquisite.  Conversely, 'Mess' - as one of the album's new compositions - also succeeds as a fantastic addition and a scene-stealing number in its own right: With the song's first part indicative of the soul-drenched aesthetic of tracks on 'Sequel', the song ultimately transitions into a brilliant and entirely new arrangement that sees all elements working together to create a driving and enthralling second half.

While certainly backed by a brilliant band throughout the album (including excellent work from trumpeter Christoph Braun), the inclusion of Augsburg's Leopold Mozart Quartet adds fascinating and intricate dimensions to the music that help to create something genuinely special.

'Sequel' delivers as an inspired (re)introduction of Hanna Sikasa as an immeasurably talented artist.  A project that has proved to be a real labour of love, 'Sequel' revels in compelling songwriting, sincere vocals, masterful production and an engaging imagination. 

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