NAO is 31 years old and has just released her debut album, For All We Know. This follows months of hype, several well-received singles, and a packed-out Glastonbury set on the Park Stage this June. It’s a mark of how dedicated she is to the grind of the music industry that she has managed to make it at this point; in a world so fixated on youthful success, NAO proves that slow and steady wins the race.
The album is a seamless concoction of wonky funk, melding gorgeously from song to song. Through the cacophony of sounds that build and swell with each song, the focus remains unarguably on NAO’s own vocal talent. Who could deny her skill when she sings the line, “drinking lime and bitter from my lemonade”? Or the final chorus of ‘Adore You’? This comes as no surprise; before she was NAO, Neo Joshua studied vocal jazz at Guildhall in London. From there, she went on to perform as a backing singer for the likes of Kwabs and Jarvis Cocker. Years of experience in the industry have allowed her to find her own voice and shout it loud.
What makes NAO so astounding, however, is her pauses: the break just after the glorious chorus in ‘Inhale Exhale’; the tantalising build-up to the chorus of ‘Girlfriend’; the tactical lyrical omission in ‘We Don’t Give A’. She allows the pauses to swell, leaving the music to speak for itself.
NAO’s debut has proclaimed her presence on the scene loud and proud, for all to hear and witness, leaving no doubts in anyone’s mind that she is most certainly here to stay.