Written by Kristi Rolf
Lush guitar chords, subtle baselines, gentle percussion, and ambient strings. These are the sounds layered underneath the signature soft falsetto voice of Novo Amor’s Ali Lacey. I first discovered his music three years ago when its comforting sound helped me cope with the stress of my final year of high school. In recent weeks, I have been revisiting the music and captured it again by its enduring appeal.
Ali Lacey has been creating music under the name Novo Amor, a Portuguese phrase that translates to ‘new love,’ since 2014. From his home in Wales, Lacey blends folk and pop influences to craft music with a distinctive, sometimes otherworldly feel. Novo Amor’s first two EPs, 2014’s Woodgate, NY, and 2017’s Bathing Beach contain some of the artist’s softest, most ambient songs. These are my go-to tracks when I want music that feels like a warm hug. In contrast, the bright, energetic piano in Opaline, the opening track of the 2020s Cannot Be, Whatsoever heralds an album of more invigorating music.
What impresses me about Novo Amor is that Lacey’s production style on each track blends each layer of sound seamlessly, so that the vocals do not take a more central spot than any other instrument. Because of this, it’s rare to notice the lyrics of Novo Amor songs on the first listen. But closer inspection reveals the profound artistry in Lacey’s songwriting.
The song Cold released on Woodgate, NY contains some of the most heartbreaking lyrics I’ve ever heard. In the chorus Lacey sings, “for all that it’s worth, I would have loved you ‘til the end, but I’m cold in your heart and you’re branded into mine.” To me, this line captures the feelings of heartache and unconditional love with the poignancy of legends like Adele.
If you are a fan of Vancouver Sleep Clinic, Bon Iver, or SYML; or if you are just a student looking for calming music to take with you into the midterm season, I cannot recommend Novo Amor enough.