In our recent interview, NAO mentioned the meaning of the title of her debut album, For All We Know. The sentimental touch gave me a huge insight into the person that she is and the story she wanted to tell through these tracks. After learning about her inspirational journey during my preparation for the interview, I was excited to hear exactly what she had in store for listeners.
She did not disappoint.
The first thing I noticed was the sheer size of the track list, with a huge 18 of them rounding out the final cut. It was immediately apparent that we were in for a treat.
Beginning with Intro (Like Velvet), a track that sounded exactly as you’d assume: soft and smooth. As you listen, you can imagine running your fingers along some high-quality fabric and feeling the tingling sensation with every touch. The uniqueness of her voice commands you to listen and fully appreciate the fact that you haven’t heard anything like this before.
It’s the very definition of unconventional beauty.
The groovy sounds of Inhale Exhale gave us a little something to dance to. Seriously, check it out and try to stop yourself from getting on your feet. It’s fun and easy on the ears, with a structured melody that has just enough going on to be interesting, but not too much to prevent overwhelming the listener. Her soulful voice twirled around the clapping sounds of the percussion, allowing us to sing along and the words quickly get themselves stuck in our heads.
I quickly understood what some of the shorter tracks among the 18 were after listening to Voice Memo 161, NAO having mentioned that she had included little bursts of her jam sessions in the recording studio. It was really nice to hear something so raw that allowed you to imagine you were right there in the studio with her. It was a great personal touch to the album.
The soft and mysterious intro to Adore You set us up for the beautiful love song we were about to hear. Lyrics like “you’re making my heart sing” and “you’re making me weak” gave us butterflies as we remember what it’s like to care about someone. The feeling seems to be mutual as we hear a man’s voice sing the other side of the relationship. It’s a streamy track that allowed room for honesty as they told the sweet story of two lovers appreciating one another.
After such a sweet love song, it was a surprise to hear In The Morning straight away. It opens with a dark and sinister sound along with the heartbreaking lines of “he came there to leave me/in the morning”. As the song continued, we heard another passionate story about a love that has been lost with the hazy sounds of the melody symbolic of the confusion of the situation and we reflect on the times we have been hurt by someone we loved without a proper explanation for it.
We Don’t Give A gave me an insight into her ability to convey a confident attitude while maintaining a certain level of class. The smoothness of the track was brought to life by a melody filled with the sounds of the piano and percussion as NAO croons about ignoring what others think of her relationship. It’s a great confidence-boosting song with a lot of swagger and perfect for anyone struggling with the inevitable rumours that flow through the grapevine.
Girlfriend was the first song I ever heard from NAO and the reason why I asked to review this album. Within the first few seconds of the song, I was hooked. I loved her voice and the beautiful melody that came with it. The incredible harmonies of the chorus pumped through my headphones, embedding the words into my memory. It still makes me smile when I hear it.
As we finish the album with Feels Like (Perfume), we have our final chance to breathe in the amazing compositions she has given us. Although we are sad that this wonderful album is now over, we can’t wait to replay this musical journey once again.
For All We Know is available now.
Image: Evening Standard