The vocally gifted East Londoner, NAO, debuted in concert on NPR’s Tiny Desk over two years ago. Many artists have went to perform on the platform yet her performance continues to stand-out amongst the rest. The most obvious reason is her unique voice. But here are a few more factors:
1.) She sounds even better live.
There are only a handful of artists that actually sound great or equivalent to the records produced in studios. Her breath control showcases as a phenomenal skill as she ascends, descends, and hold notes in every song. She exudes grace in each motion and shows no point of exhaust.
2.) Her background singers.
NAO was once a background singer and her chosen backup vocalists highlight this fact. Specifically, the singer with blue braids. Her voice ranges from a tenor to alto. It is beautifully deep. She carries the sound between NAO’s verses along with the other vocalist. Although the blue-braided woman is in the background, her voice creeps up your ears and announces a powerful presence. Her bass tone cements the sounds together through the entire performance.
3.) The song selection is transcendental.
NAO perused through tracks between her two albums. The songs chosen take the audience on a journey of relationships and self-discovery. Songs like “If You Ever” reveal a trepidation towards romantic love. Then she further unravels the trip with choices like “Bad Blood” and “Orbit” which expose a release from a relationship. Then she ends with “Make It Out Alive.” Originally, a duet yet somehow she pulls it off as a solo. It ends the journey of a relationship where one must come back to self.
4.) No one sounds like her.
Her voice is coy yet strong; high and low. She has RANGE! An incomparable sound releases from her body that greets yours with a hug. It would be difficult to compare her voice to another current singer. When she speaks, it also sounds as smooth as butter.
NAO creates the vibe to her lyrics with a warm and personal approach which gives the audience a slice of humor and conversation. It’s only a slice because once you settle into the atmosphere, the performance is over. Disappointment hits like a crashing wave because it is too good to be so short. A memorable ambience and performance sat at this Tiny Desk.
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