Before seeing Novo Amor, I had just reviewed a poetry event. Hearing these new poems for the first time ever, I realised the privilege of familiarity and how this links so heavily with how one enjoys things. Despite this being Novo Amor’s first tour across the UK, USA, and Canada, familiarity with his music makes a world of difference in terms of experience and enjoyment. This Welsh multi-instrumentalist, Ali John Meredith-Lacey, has produced music since 2012 winning a consistent fan-base through his soulful, indie sound, and minimalistic lyrics. The moniker, Novo Amor, comes from channelling a break-up into something more creative — and it certainly makes for good material.
The night begun with Novo’s support act in the form of Anna Leone, a rising Swedish singer-songwriter who performed a few songs from her new EP ‘Wandered Away’. Her track ‘My Soul I’ — the first song she wrote and released – displayed Anna’s impressive control of both emotion and huskiness in her voice and her next, ‘I Never Really’, followed suit. She performed her entire set solo, with just a guitar, showcasing her quietly striking confidence. Anna’s performance was an ethereal experience, and I’d really recommend listening to the Mahogany sessions of her songs on Youtube so you can appreciate the talent she possesses.
Novo Amor then appeared alongside frequent collaborator Ed Tullett, as well as an entire band of violins, pianos, guitars, and drums. Even from the back of the room, the entire room reverberated. He began with ‘Birthplace’, the eponymous single off his new album. Normally singing in falsetto, Novo utilised his natural register in these performances, adding an interesting dimension to a banging tune.
He performed two new singles, ‘Seneca’ and ‘Repeat till Death’, both of which are mournful, restrained ballads that are incredibly stirring. When performing his more well-known songs, ‘Anchor’, ‘Birthplace’, and ‘From Gold’, the audience were noticeably more receptive — gasps escaped as Ed Tullett’s voice shone throughout ‘Anchor’, with harmonies building up to the chorus as the violins and drums were unleashed across the room.
There is something eerily similar about Novo and Justin Vernon, the lead member of Bon Iver. Novo’s music acts as an avenue for processing a break-up, with Vernon raising similar points about his first album. This is not to reduce Novo Amor to a comparison but the similarities run rampant — the artwork on his singles, the minimalistic lyrics, the layered voices. In other news, a lot of people came in couples or twos — perhaps Ali’s music is a good bonding exercise. Overall, Novo put on an emotive performance that resonated with all who were in the crowd. Regardless of his similarities to his contemporaries, sometimes familiarity is the most comforting feeling.