With his sprightly choruses and soothing falsetto, Ali Lacey, otherwise known as folk balladeer Novo Amor, presents a rare authenticity in a genre plagued by tacky musical tropes. The singer's refreshing creativity can be accredited to his dense musical pallet. At age eight, Lacey purchased Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP and The Offspring's Conspiracy of One as his first two records. "I was just blasting Eminem all the time," Lacey recalls. "In fact, my neighbor had to sit me down and have a chat with me because they thought it was too vile."
Originally from a small town in Wales, Lacey's taste in music drastically shifted after he spent a summer teaching music amongst the pews of an old chapel in upstate New York. There, Lacey fell in love with a girl and developed a deeper appreciation for music that had "a lot more emotional depth" than what he grew up with. Novo Amor is Portuguese for New Love, and Lacey returned from America ready to sonically embody the nostalgia and heartbreak he experienced that summer.
"Still, this is the first year I've felt like a real artist," said Lacey. While the singer has collaborated on multiple projects, Lacey finally released his debut album, Birthplace, this past October. He described the debut as a representation of his experiences growing up and how they inevitably shaped Novo Amor. "It's celebratory and happy in a way cause I'm moving on from the past," Lacey said. "It's one thing to be an 'artist' in the sense of making art and showing it to people, but I feel a lot more people are listening now than they were a year ago." Yet his growing popularity did take a momentary toll on the soft-spoken singer. "I never thought I'd have stage fright," Lacey said with a laugh, "but before my first show [on this past tour] I drank a bottle of wine and just completely messed it up."
Passionate about environmental preservation, Lacey also didn't initially realize how wasteful the tour life would be. "When I started creating music I didn't expect to have to make so much merch," he said. So the artist decided to join forces with Energy Revolution to help reduce his bus's CO2 emissions. Everyone on his team bought their own renewable water bottle, his merch T-shirts were made with organic cotton and water-based ink, and even the Birthplace vinyls were stored in recycled vinyl pellets. "When artists tour we rarely consider the environmental impact," Lacey said of the effort. "This whole thing is basically giving ourselves a pollution tax which will help fund various projects that support clean renewable energy." As 2019 gets underway, Lacey seemed to shrug at the idea of changing it up in the new year. "Touring [this past year] was great, and the landscape was amazing...and I feel I'm stronger than I was before," he said. "I'm just excited to keep working."
Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area. Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.
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