Nao – ‘Saturn’ review

An astronomical album, filled with blessings, Nao’s second record fuses R&B and jazz to explore the hardships and feelings of being a modern-day black woman

Nao had massive boots to fill after a debut as successful as ‘For All We Know’ – and she has done just that. With the new album, ‘Saturn’, she utilises twisted and imaginative flow and refreshing production to mesmerise the listener, placing us under her spell. Nao has one mission here: to make your nod your head and bop about as feel-good oozes out of your speakers.

She effortlessly fuses together different genres to create a sonically spell-binding experience. Sultry R&B notes (‘Gabriel’) and jerky, deep-rooted beats (‘Orbit’ and ‘Love Supreme’) demonstrate Nao’s jazz roots (she studied vocal jazz at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama) as well as bringing it back to her African roots with the Afrobeats-inspired ‘Drive and Disconnect’. The east Londoner has here created the kind of tracks that’ll have you grabbing your hairbrush and singing in your mirror – even if you can’t quite reach those high notes like she does.

Her honest, cinematic exploration of love, lust, and hardship makes for a compelling adventure – and one you’ll happily join Nao on. At the start of the album, the musician takes a simple approach to love; it’s almost like the beginning to a relationship. On ‘If You Ever’, she asks a simple, explicit question (“Would you like to go / Like to go with me?”) that conveys her emotions easily and clearly.

READ MORE: Nao Interviewed: “Funk And Jazz and soul music is just in my blood”

Deeper into the record, her approach to love becomes more complex, the extended metaphor of weather in the atmospheric ‘Yellow of the Sun’ relaying a relationship that’s in a good spot. The track’s like feeling golden sun rays on your skin, and shows the comfort she gains from the relationship. And it’s no surprise that powerful slow jam ‘Make it Out Alive’ was featured on Insecure, the hit American TV series about the hardships and feelings of being a modern-day black woman – almost exactly what Nao’s music is.

This is an astronomical album, filled with blessings. With all the success of her debut, for all we know Nao can reach the Top 20 again and be nominated for more awards, because ‘Saturn’ is full of beautiful, intricately unique songs that could never be imitated. Like her,  it’s simply one of a kind.

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