Album Review: Novo Amor – Birthplace

Over the years, Ali Lacey, artistically known as Novo Amor, has slowly, but enticingly given us tastes of his atmospheric infused folk. The celestial quality of his music and voice have captivated the likes of many, with collections like Woodgate, NY, 2017’s Bathing Beach, and his collaboration with Ed Tullett on Heiress being an exquisite musical display. The soul, passion, and magnificent producing behind what we’ve heard so far have heightened expectations for the release of this first proper album, Birthplace. At a first listen it can sound a bit tedious, though it certainly grows on you after a second run. Birthplace is more upbeat in nature, perhaps representing a brighter time in Lacey’s life, though still holds the dynamic cerebral-ness that we love.

Emigrate, a folk song with pop sensibilities, is a celebratory start to this album rooted in nostalgia and growth. Backed by a diverse sonic landscape, it sets the tone for more instrumental involvement than we’re familiar with for Novo Amor. Birthplace is a song that embodies exactly what the title alludes to, a rebirth of sorts that results from necessary change. It crescendos nicely throughout, a beautiful hallmark of Novo Amor songs that we also hear in other tracks, including the cinematic Anniversary.

Birthplace’s music video emphasizes the heartbreaking problem of plastic waste in our oceans, with powerful imagery that leaves a profound imprint. Utican has also been made into an emotional music video that focuses on a father/son relationship during a transformative time in a young boy’s life. Seneca, a string-filled melodic lullaby, calms down the pace of the album, whilst Oh, Round Lake is a memorable one that generously sprinkles in the banjo, a song reminiscent of Novo Amor’s melancholic, soft folk, as is State Lines.

Birthplace liberally incorporates percussion and strings for a more positive sentiment. Ambient undertones together with Lacey’s angelic falsetto exude a warmth and spirituality that is unparalleled, and enough to give you the chills. The beauty of Novo Amor’s music certainly lives up to the beauty of its name.

Julia Kwan