A beautiful experience that dwells on possibility...

With an unparalleled grace, Ali John Meredith-Lacey presents us with a unequivocal compilation of tender tracks in his new album, 'Cannot Be, Whatsoever' under Novo Amor. Although he is no stranger to the indie folk rock genre, this album speaks to the trajectory of the evolution of his sound since the release of his first EP in 2014, 'Woodgate, NY'.

The shallows and bellows of Lacey’s vocals eradicate any wavering residue of fear, it lives in this way of refusal and prayer all at once. There is a perfect duality in the construction of the energetic running guitar sequences into a very methodical lyrical framing that builds and tumbles back over itself in an assortment of classical rock structures.

Especially on the track, 'No Plans' we are seized and plummeted into deeper vocals, harboring drumming with the constant elegant guitar melody that stands strong throughout. This album really provides an incredible space for the listen to fall over and over the liminal portions of rising and falling. You cannot avoid the seismic passion and power of Lacey’s attunement in this album. The rhythms and lyrics oscillate, but by the end of the album we are left with an undulating sense of wholeness, peace and captivated wonder.

'Keep Me' quietens the quaking of this time. It sits us down, watches us breathe and for a moment everything is still. Perhaps one of the more simplistic musical arrangements of the album; however, it stands for me as the strongest. It is unapologetically true, he sings out in earnest hope and does not waver in his love as he is carried with the beautiful violin strings and guitar strumming.

'Cannot Be, Whatsoever' is a needed change of pace. It is a rewarding album that begs to be listened to over and over. There is a lot to discover in between the moments of honey vocals, vibrant guitars and gestural synths. This album is as much experimental as it is folk, the track, 'Statue Of A Woman' is an utterly ephemeral and grounding experience with echoing synths reverabating and building throughout.

Although at times, the album strays from a complete cohesiveness as far as sound, I do not mind. For I am beyond ecstatic to continue to see Lacey move in this manner. Last year he toured with Gia Margaret, perhaps he will take a lead from her and also create an entirely ambient album in the near future.

Whether it’s the reminder that aloneness isn’t singular or a simplistic jolt of motivation that is far from cheesy, Novo Amor delivers an album with complexity and subtlety all at once. At a time when chaos and pain seem next to impossible to look away from, Novo Amor gently reminds us of all the possibilities and ways of being true.

8/10

Words: Rae Niwa

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