I was first made aware of Dessa last year when P.O.S. dropped Never Better on us, and Dessa killed a verse on the song, “Low Light Low Life.” I knew of Doomtree, but like most people I hadn’t listened to any of the other artists outside of P.O.S.

Well, I was certainly curious about Dessa now, and thankfully, she happened to be putting out her first full-length album this year. Even better, the album is amazing.

Dessa’s work channels her background in spoken-word poetry, hip-hop, and singing in a female a capella group. Luckily for all of us, Dessa has found a great balance between all of this that works incredibly well. Nothing feels compartmentalized; it’s all fluid and comes together to create something truly unique.

But if you’re looking for uplifting love songs, you’ve come across the wrong album. If you don’t mind songs about destructive relationships, pull up a chair. Songs like “Matches to Paper Dolls,” “Mineshaft II,” and “Dutch,” do not portray love in a positive light, that’s for sure.

However, the nice thing about Dessa is that she doesn’t wallow in self-pity. Even though she might dissect a dysfunctional relationship, she doesn’t really play the victim card. There is a strength to Dessa’s music, and it shines through on every song. She chooses her words carefully, and her voice demands attention.

And while I might be painting a picture of an album full of downers, there are songs that don’t fit this mold, like “Crew,” which is something of a love song to the creative space she’s found working with her partners in Doomtree.

Speaking of, members such as Paper Tiger, Cecil Otter, and Lazerbeak all do an excellent job with production, helping Dessa find a unique mix of jazz, blues, rock, and hip hop that really fits her well. This isn’t just one of the best debut albums I’ve listened to, it’s one of the best albums period. This one is easily a contender for my favorite album of 2010.