‘For All We Know’ by NAO Album Review: A Unique Voice Shines Through On Debut Album
Former backing vocalist NAO, previously known with her stellar single “Bad Blood” and her appearance on Disclosure‘s Caracal, reveals her modern soul debut album For All We Know. The East London singer is starting to make a name for herself with a confident and mature style on For All We Know that is bound to earn her a well-deserved place among R&B’s best.
NAO seems to appear in a succession of artists who try out a similar formula with varying results – heavy electronics and effects coupled with organic instruments and vocals. It’s a blend of pop, electronic music, R&B and soul that NAO has to offer and unlike many who verge on the mainstream, she has the proportions exactly right. Her closest musical counterpart would perhaps be FKA Twigs, though there is certainly a more melodic feel to NAO’s style.
Her soulful, textured voice sounds completely organic amidst distortions and scratchy production and brings a powerful emotional charge over an industrial soundscape. On the A.K. Paul-assisted “Trophy,” for example, she croons over distorted guitar and beats that evoke some of Prince’s more recent work. For All We Know has a lot to offer in terms of variety too. Her catchy hook on “Fool to Love” is the closest she gets to mainstream pop. Elsewhere “We Don’t Give A” is a mid-tempo, funky dancehall hit, while “Blue Wine” slows things down detached piano chords and a balladic atmosphere, and her most recent single “Girlfriend” has a little of both worlds with its minimal instrumentation on the verses and explosive beat drops on the chorus.
For All We Known is a downright slick and classy album. It’s only serious shortcoming is perhaps its length. With its 18 tracks (14 songs and 4 interludes), it stretches a little too far and diffuses the good impression it makes, even though some of its stronger tracks arrive in the second half of the record. NAO’s voice is outstanding throughout. For All We Know is the kind of debut album that shows a polished talent and the amazing potential she has to grow.