The first time I listened to Anita Lester’s “Sun and Moon and Stars,” I was curled up in my childhood bedroom, drinking tea with twinkling lights hung up all around me. I remember thinking that the ambiance in the room was perfect for this soothing, yet strange and beautiful tune in that very moment.
Anita Lester is an Australian based musician, writer and painter. According to both her Spotify and personal website biographies, she has been described as “Nick Cave and Mary Magdalene’s love child” and the “tiny church with cathedral pipes.”
Anita initially made impressions in small communities, touring around the globe, first with Me and the Grownups, then as Lester The Fierce. In March 2020, Anita released her debut solo EP Erato. Track’s from this EP started to get recognized, and Anita’s cover of “You Want it Darker” by Leonard Cohen eventually got picked up by film and television, including The Walking Dead in 2021, after her live video of the same song went viral–praised by Leonard himself prior to his death.
Listen to any of Lester’s songs, and you’ll find yourself in for a treat with her intricate, story-driven songs.
There’s a delicateness to Lester’s sound- both her vocals and the instrumentals behind her have this soft, almost nostalgic feeling that leaves listeners yearning for more. And yet, the raw, honest depth in her words carry straight through her vocals, especially when taking a closer listen to her lyrics in “Sun and Moon and Stars.”
Lester describes her inspiration for writing “Sun and Moon and Stars” under her SoundCloud track, saying:
“‘Sun and Moon and Stars was written in the middle of 2020, in the silent streets of St Kilda, Melbourne, just after all the trees had lost their leaves. The rain fell hard and people could only talk with their eyes. It was the beginning of the strangest time many of us had seen. For many of us, the world shutting down shed light on what was important and sometimes difficult decisions had to be made.
This is a song about that.”
Among all of the isolating struggles faced both collectively and individually during 2020, Lester was able to capture the lessons learned in a way that is so touching, relatable, and truly just pulls at your heart strings. She uses the collective experience of a global pandemic as her muse, and in this way, creates an experience that is universal to all listeners.
This universality is evident in her lyrics. In the second to last verse of the song, she sings: “Throw your letters to the smoke/And I sleep before that fire/So then I wake awoke.”
Hearing that brilliantly written phrase for the first time, “So then I wake awoke,” shook me to my core. It made me really think back to how the concept of time, something that once brought structure and normalcy into our daily lives, suddenly felt so foreign–and Lester certainly isn’t alone in her words.
All we had was ourselves during this isolating time, and yet at the end of the song, she continues to repeat in beautifully striking harmony, “You were all I ever wanted.” The song teaches us that there is something much bigger out there than all of us–like the sun, and moon, and stars.
The simplicity of her lyrics is mirrored in the construction of her music video, shot in Lester’s lounge room by Lester herself–bare and captivating. It was just released on YouTube on June 6th, 2021, and let me be the first to tell you–her multi-disciplinary artistry is not worth missing out on.