Cool without sacrificing that catchy rawness.
Label: Little Tokyo / RCA
Released: July 29th 2016
If you head to a roof terrace in London, looking for a suave evening that just breathes 'coolness' then Nao is surely soundtracking it. It’s been a long time coming but 'For All We Know' perfectly encapsulates everything that makes this Londoner an essential voice in the neo-soul scene that we’ve seen emerge over the past few years.
Its the variation between tracks such as 'Get To Know Ya', 'Adore You' and 'Give A Little' which shows the scope and ambition that the record deserves, dipping between ambience and straight on eager with ease. What Nao manages to accomplish, is the ability to sound completely unique, yet distinctively relatable over the course of 18 lengthy tracks. With interludes and plenty abound, it’s a complete album in the sense of a body of work, dipping electro with R’n'B s if it was a natural reaction, rather than a necessity drew together upon chart success.
It’s particularly noticeable within the widescreen 'Trophy' or 'Give Me A Little' and its vibrational core where the sense of individuality shines. 'Fool To Love' and 'Bad Blood' are full-on singles at their best and they stall that line between The Weeknd’s distinctly pop surroundings and the more alternative scopes of Shura with clarity reaching those edges as a tricky level to balance, but Nao manage it with ease. It’s undeniably refreshing, and a record that maintains that level of cool without sacrificing that catchy rawness.
What 'For All We Know' shows is a truly creative mind, willing to explore its furthest reaches whilst maintaining that core pop sensibility. It sits as an opening gambit that breathes and lives within its own boundaries without bashing down those already established - and in that sense its fine. The perfect accompaniment to patrolling metropolitan life, it welcomes a new voice to that neo-soul table with plenty of distinctive features. Jamie Muir