R&B/electronic songstress Nao is the epitome of a carefree black woman whose music immediately elicits the feels. On Wednesday night, the London native performed at Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre for her For All We Know tour (the trek began in Brooklyn on Sept. 14 and wraps in Berlin on Nov. 17).
For her 90-minute set, Nao (real name Neo Jessica Joshua) belted out standouts in her catalog including “Trophy,” “Inhale Exhale” and “In the Morning” before wrapping with an encore of her biggest hit to date “Bad Blood.”
Here are six reasons Nao is a must-see performer:
She could be the voice of R&BDM
Alternative-R&B has emerged in recent years featuring ethereal, wispy vocals on top of eccentric, borderline dance production. Nao nails the R&B/electronic space with a voice reminiscent of vocal MVPs like Fantasia and futuristically fresh like Janet Jackson’s sound crafted a la Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
She’s got the range
The range in songs like “In the Morning” requires a skilled singer who could soar to high notes or falling into a lower register. Throughout her show, Nao nailed riveting runs and staccato notes, whether singing of life’s obstacles or the light-hearted feeling of new love.
She’s a poignant songwriter
Before committing to the singer life, NAO previously had a stint as a Grime MC in her adolescence days in London. It’s clear from lyrics like “a glass of ocean slipping down my throat, and landed on my hopes” as heard on “Bad Blood” and “My thoughts are numb/still I take the bite of your requited touch” from “Apple Cherry,” the lyricist in her lives on.
She has famous fans
Mega-successful electronic duo Disclosure tapped Nao for “Superego” from 2015 Caracal album. Buzzy artists like Gallant and Snoh Aalegra were also spotted in the crowd rocking out at her L.A. show.
She has an impressive band
Team work makes the dream work and this holds true for NAO and her band. She shouted out her two guitarists, a keyboardist, and a drummer for coming all the way from London town to play in L.A.
She puts you in your feels
The introspective and relatable material on For All We Know (released in 2016 via RCA Records) takes you to a place of hope and innocent infatuation (“Adore You”) before going introspective on “Fool to Love.” The sequencing in her set takes you on a journey through the phases of love that is well worth the trip.