We first picked up Nao on Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac’s show back in 2014, largely undiscovered then, but who’s now gone on to be on the Radio 1’s Ones To Watch list for 2016, this album has been a long time coming.
It’s certainly worth the wait however, she’s teamed up with some of the most interesting names in terms of electronic producers, from Jungle to A.K Paul, to Grades and Royce Wood Junior, she certainly hasn’t held back for her debut.
“For All We Know’ expertly weaves R&B, electronica and minimalist acoustic sounds together in a smooth, intoxicating way that leaves you wanting more. Each track is expertly placed, with a few interlude tracks that are actually named after iPhone voice memos, adding an incredibly personal feel to the effort. This new trend of personalised album interludes, previously seen on the likes of Shura’s album ‘Nothings Real’, is most definitely a welcome one.
Such a professional and mature album, shouldn’t be too much of a surprise from Nao however, as even though this is her debut, she’s had her fair share of musical experience. Once a jazz student, she’s also been a backing singer for none other than Jarvis Cocker and she’s even been a ghost-writer for UK grime and garage artists back in her teens.
One of the most highly anticipated tracks to appear on her album was her collaboration with A.K Paul (Jai Paul’s brother). The pair collaborated on the hit ‘So Good’ back in 2014 and rumours that there was to be another collaboration for the album caused quite the excitement online. ‘Trophy’ is a blissful blend of both of the artist’s creative styles and is better than anything we could have hoped for.
There’s a strong theme of love, lust and seduction across the album, ‘DYWM’ (Do You Want Me), is particularly worth mentioning, a track which in all other circumstances, sang by anyone else, would have just been another song focussed around sexual desires, but Nao’s tone and the surging production adds a whole lot of depth to it, saving it from itself.
Despite the undeniably masterful production displayed throughout the album, Nao’s vocals are the real magic; her vocal range is vast, controlled and unique. It might take a few listens to truly appreciate them, but it’s hard not to admire her talent… particularly in ‘Feels Like (Perfume)’, where the production takes a step back, favoring strings, piano and a drum kit over the regular synth pads and fierce drum loops.
Another brilliant showcase of her vocal talents comes on ‘Blue Wine’, a comparatively slower track that proves there’s more to her than what she’s previously shown.
A brilliant debut, by a brilliant lady and with such an esteemed team of collaborators, we’re clearly not the only ones who see her potential.