In a dimly lit cellar of a small venue in Cologne, Germany, Ali Lacey sat nervously twiddling the laces of his black Converse.
Lacey, better known as Novo Amor, was preparing for his final performance in a five-stop tour with collaborator Ed Tullett.
After a sold out show in Amsterdam, the British duo seemed weary, with pre-show jitters bubbling just under the surface.
Along with a live band, Lacey and Tullett filled the cozy venue with careening falsetto vocals and crescendo instrumentals. Their set, although short, temporarily transported the audience to a dreamy, tender soundscape.
The collaboration between Lacey and Tullett results in a striking, beautiful tension. Uplifting, serene melodies contrast an undercurrent of throbbing emotion. Each song is a fragile balancing act, leaving listeners to rise and fall along with every swell of sound.
“I love to create a sense of beauty and intensity in one track,” said Lacey. “In dynamics, you can say a lot. In the quiet and the loud, there’s just a range of emotion.”
Although Novo Amor’s delicate falsetto conjures up comparisons to other artists in the indie-folk space – Bon Iver and James Vincent McMorrow – the haunting, but feel-good nature of the music is distinctly its own.
Lacey began his career studying music production and writing cinematic and instrumental music. He really only started writing lyrics after experiencing heartbreak for the first time.
“Delving into it and writing about it and really thinking about what happened – it helped me move on from it.”
While Lacey transmutes emotion into sound, Tullett weaves empathetic experience into lyrics, making them a mystical musical match. They describe their first time writing together as a seamless flow of inspiration.
“We found a room, picked up guitars and just started playing. The ideas just kept on going back and forth.”
The pair is currently working on a collaborative album, with songs they’ve been fine-tuning for over two years. While singles “Alps” and “Faux” serve more as an extension of Lacey’s solo work, the record is primed to be a more methodical reflection of their partnership.
“Our record together is more thought-about and my old music is more felt-about.”
After the show, Lacey and Tullett hung to the side of the stage talking with fans, posing for photos and signing autographs. The nerves had worn off and a calm satisfaction of a successful first tour together had set in.