Nao: For All We Know review – enchanting modern pop odyssey

(Little Tokyo Recordings/RCA)

The term “future R&B” loses some of its new-fangled resonance now that everyone and their Garageband-proficient dog is at it. After the similarly inclined Jack Garratt, Mura Masa, Dua Lipa and Mabel, Nao, whose voice appeared on Disclosure’s Caracal, affirms her place as the most emotionally textured of this modern-pop wave. The Londoner’s debut, featuring funk enigma AK Paul and a series of voice memos, combines the honeyed with the industrial, her contorted grooves veering between Dam Funk’s scratchy sonics and Stevie Wonder’s spiritual soul. The chilly, distant production qualities this genre often possesses are replaced by a more fidgety, intimate approach: instruments sound organic, and her insecurities crushingly vivid (on Girlfriend she begs for affection as a woman unable to accept herself, singing, “If I was your girlfriend, could you love for two?”). Its weakness is in its 18-track odyssey; an elaborate route around an otherwise enchanting album.

Fool to Love by Nao on YouTube

Contributor

Harriet Gibsone

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Sohn: Rennen review – affected modern blues with some intriguing touches

Rachel Aroesti

12, Jan, 2017 @9:15 PM

Article image
Maluma: FAME review – sexy reggaeton from fit-but-you-know-it megastar
The Colombian pop star

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

18, May, 2018 @9:00 AM

Article image
Fantastic Negrito: The Last Days of Oakland review – a bluesy howl for modern America

Michael Hann

16, Jun, 2016 @9:15 PM

Article image
Tinashe: Joyride review – delayed gratification
Tinashe’s long-gestated second album is a mixed bag, best when her coolly focused sexuality is put to the fore

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

12, Apr, 2018 @11:00 AM

Article image
Maxwell: BlackSUMMERS’night review – anguished, classy soul man returns

Dave Simpson

30, Jun, 2016 @9:00 PM

Article image
Rosalía review – flamenco dragged thrillingly into the 21st century
Village Underground, London
Repackaging an age-old art form for a modern audience is a risky business – but the Catalan executes it with aplomb in an evening of gloriously global pop

Rachel Aroesti

18, Oct, 2018 @12:57 PM

Article image
Empress of: Us review – joyful, lighter-than-air pop
Lorely Rodriguez’s second album celebrates friendship, love and connection in songs with a playful sensibility

Dave Simpson

19, Oct, 2018 @9:00 AM

Article image
Christina Aguilera: Liberation review – #MeToo makeover hits high and low notes | Alexis Petridis
Aguilera’s eighth album includes some great collaborations with Kanye West, Demi Lovato and Anderson.Paak

Alexis Petridis

14, Jun, 2018 @11:00 AM

Article image
Jorja Smith: Lost & Found review – soulful debut from R&B prodigy
British singer’s anticipated first album works through the pain of youth, love and relationships – but at times feels sparse

Kieran Yates

08, Jun, 2018 @8:30 AM

Article image
Alessia Cara: The Pains of Growing review – unsteady steps to maturity
Strong tunes are let down by lyrics that too often strain to bridge the gap between teenage and young adulthood on this second album

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

30, Nov, 2018 @9:15 AM