Two solo artists hunkered down in an apartment in 2013 in Cardiff, Wales, and began to piece together the songs that would eventually culminate into the album Heiress.
Welsh, alt-folk artist Novo Amor—A.K.A. Ali John Meredith-Lacey—and songwriter Ed Tullett released a few singles together, notably “Alps” and “Faux,” before deciding to collaborate on a full album after receiving great review on their small collection of songs.
Released on Friday Nov. 10, Heiress is comprised of 11 songs. The album contains tracks that are calm, as well as songs that are more rigid and powerful. “Cavalry,” the third track on the album, achieves both of these tones by itself.
On Twitter, Novo Amor posted that Heiress is “a chance to follow contrasting ideas, it’s a record that clashes calm with raw intensity, rough around the edges from the environment in which it was created.”
Tullett also posted on Twitter regarding the creation of the album, writing, “Recording it was cathartic, both in our approach to making records, and to working [with] each other. Transformative to us in the act of its composition, it owes its naturally cacophonous, callow beauty to the formative process of making it.”
Many of these songs seem to be about adolescence, losing your youth and growing into one’s own identity. Novo Amor mentioned on his website that while they were working in studios both old and new, experiences occurred that lent themselves to the creation of Heiress, as the artists shuffled back and forth between physical spaces, and perhaps emotional spaces as well.
One of the most beautiful songs is called “Terraform,” which the pair released prior to Nov. 10. The song’s music video shows the story of a man named Bas who is a miner near the Ijen volcano in Indonesia. A fraction of this song’s proceeds were donated to help those like Bas, who extract sulfur from a highly toxic crater near Ijen. Twice a day they have to carry large chunks of sulfur up the side of the volcano and down the mountain, without any modern equipment, only getting paid $10 a day.
The song “Terraform” is also about the end of a relationship—romantic or platonic—after which there is a mourning period. The song, however, seems to focus on the moment that you find yourself capable of standing back up again, prepared to seek out a new relationship.
The song’s music video appears magical because it captures the clouds of dust that Bas is exposed to as he extracts sulfur from the crater, although the reality of Bas’ situation is made clear when they show callouses on his shoulders from carrying the loads of sulfur each day. The video juxtaposes Bas carrying the loads of sulfur to his daughter on his back, because by working in this environment, Bas is trying to give his daughter a better future.
Another great song from the album is “Ontario,” which Tullett says, “is about reminiscing beautiful things—of all the songs it’s one of the most abstract, and most personal within that intangibility.”
Ultimately, this album seems to look at how we grow, how our environments shape us and how we catch ways to stand up on our own. The soft music juxtaposed beside those more powerful and harsh sounds really grab one’s attention and capture the struggle that one faces as they’re becoming who they really are.