Last Wednesday in London’s hipster haven, Shoreditch, I was invited to a gig that featured an up-and-coming artist by the name of Nao at Village Underground. I say up and coming because the East London songstress has already released a couple of Eps on iTunes (February 15 & So Good) as well as being play-listed on Radio 1 with DJ’s Clara Amfo and Annie Mac giving their official seal of approval to the singer. The BBC Sound of 2016 also placed her at number 3 on their list with Jack Garret and Alessia Cara making up the top 3. It’s fair to say that Nao is definitely a star on the rise.
The gig was a really pleasant surprise, especially as I had not heard a lot of her music prior to the gig but I left the venue a new fan of her music. And even her as a person because she came across so likeable when she interacted with the audience. She wasn’t afraid to be herself with the crowd and showed budding potential as a dancer which is always a great thing in my eyes. The crowd was was made up of a diverse bunch of young and old- and being that it was Shoreditch, plaid shirts and beards were a common, if not predictable sight.
It’s hard to describe what Nao’s sound actually is, it isn’t as if she is a straight forward pop singer or RnB singer. Her sound is somewhere in between the two genres, coupled with elements of House and Dubstep. The music itself isn’t superficial or manufactured, it shares similarities to the dark and atmospheric sounds so commonly associated with The Weeknd and PARTYNEXTDOOR. But then again you can hear parts that sound akin to Etta Bond and Raf Riley. It’s really hard to categorise Nao’s sound and that only makes her even more interesting. Critics have described her sound as Neo-Soul and Alternative RnB but even that feels too confining for Nao.
I have to mention Nao’s singing voice. It’s sickly sweet and bares resemblance to the likes of Aluna George with incredible power and projection. But don’t begin to think Nao is a belter and warbler, quite the opposite. She stays within her capabilities as a vocalist and demonstrates her stunning lower register on songs like ‘Bad Blood’ which she performed as the gig’s closer with a stage drowned in blood red and just a spotlight on her.
I’ve added a few of the songs Nao performed at her gig below so you can get a better idea of her sound but one thing is for sure, she has a glittering career in music ahead of her.
Watch this space.