The world is a frenetic place. Sometimes it’s overwhelming.
Music can be an antidote to this, and in the case of Novo Amor’s new songs, it certainly is.
There’s a meditative quality to the light, bubbling electronics at the beginning of “Years On” and a not quite whispered vocal that soon employs harmonies, multi-tracked voices, and glitches that recall early Bon Iver.
The whole track has a feeling of being an experiment in layering and texture as the piano rises and strings fleetingly join in here and there, then the vocals will swell together before space appears again. There’s the lack of much percussion which helps make the song feel almost as though it’s breathing, and moments where the instruments just stop to let the voices do the work.
The song seems lovingly arranged and put together, careful to be quiet where it needs to be and to add the strings, bubbling synths, slide guitar, and horns where it wants to create anticipation before the next part of the song. There’s a logic but it’s a kind of dream logic that is easy to float away with.
As if to complement the arrangement the lyrics are just as abstract. They make sense until you study them too closely and then they don’t quite add up. But they are brilliantly written.
Some of the lines, when separated from the whole, are strangely moving:
You’re the author of my head
All of my favourites have moved
Right to the corners of their boredom
And I couldn’t sit there with you
It’s almost as if his feelings have become living characters in the scenes that are playing out, dreams interacting with reality somehow. And as gently as it arrived, “Years On” eventually gives up the instruments to the gently bubbling bells and piano to fade away like those dreams that evaporate when we wake.
The other new song from Novo Amor is a more conventionally played and arranged song but no less affecting than its companion song.
Perhaps if these two songs are connected, “Land Where I Land” might be the point at which we wake from the dreaming of “Years On.”
Acoustic guitar and voice and a little more of those beguiling harmonies jump in straight away but this song is clear in its message. He’s not quite in control and yet he seems at peace with it, happy to end up wherever he does:
My legs won’t go where my head wants
My collection of words couldn’t ever be enough
My head won’t turn in your direction
I’ll land where I land when I land
As with “Years On” strings soon join in and this time a light drumbeat as well to propel the song along but it’s expertly produced so that again everything feels as light as clouds.
The third verse is lyrically more intriguing and descriptive:
Red bag on your shoulder with the price tag on
Your hair band through a cold phase, it’s time we settle up
It’s also lovely when his voice skips into a beautiful falsetto for the next line to lift the song, again done so gently but very effectively. And when this second song finishes, the strings and guitar land on an uncertain note, a moment of slight unease.
Novo Amor is not giving you absolutes with either of these songs, but he is painting sound in light brush strokes that, when all put together, create an impressionistic version of what he’s seeing and feeling.
And they’re quite some works of art.