NEW ARTIST FINDS: NAO
Nao brings a lot of the great things about ‘90s hip hop and R&B to her sound, but there’s enough innovation and diversity in the music to also please people who aren’t necessarily familiar with those genres. Nao herself appears to be a bit of a mystery in a time when most solo artists really want to be seen. There is no garish materialism or outlandish personality to be found here, but there is a qualified dignity and authenticity of content that is very rare in the Top 40 realm. This is not to say that Nao wants to or should be in that arena, what I am saying is that some multi-platinum artists could learn a thing or two about being creative and having attitude while exercising restraint.
“Take Control Of You” is a catchy breakbeat anthem for women who are tired of solving their man’s problems. It’s not a rant or an accusation, but almost a statement of encouragement from a woman who has invested time and energy into someone she loves. The breaks, claps and fuzzy basses along with Nao’s vocals are overall an interesting production combo. I hesitate to call her R&B or Nu Soul because there are enough elements at work to keep her out of any one category.
NAO - "TAKE CONTROL OF YOU"
“Adore You” is the strongest of the two tracks I heard, and possibly the one that will get her noticed. Sparse arrangement, a perfect amount of delay, some glittering keys and rich, jazzy vocals create an absolute gem of a song. I would say this is similar to The Weeknd in terms of being hauntingly ethereal while also remaining on solid R&B ground.
NAO - "ADORE YOU"
I don’t know what the future has in store for Nao, but she could certainly find a home on any smooth jazz/soul/R&B format radio station, as younger artists like Jhené Aiko are entering the rotation. She could maybe find her place in Top 40 the way The Weeknd did. But I think Nao has her options open because she simply doesn’t exactly fit into any spot she doesn’t want to be in. I hope she stays independent and fluid for a while because her sound and her vocals are perfectly suited for a small venue, a table near the stage, and a stiff drink.