For this week’s *Artist to Watch* I want to talk to you about NAO, 31 year old singer-songwriter Neo Jessica Joshua from East London. Her voice is so extraordinary that I doubted it was real when I first heard one of her songs. But after having watched some of her interviews I can confirm, she actually sounds like a cute little angel all the time. Her debut album “For All We Know” was released in 2016 which included “Fool To Love”, “Get to Know Ya” and “Bad Blood” and I can imagine you’ve probably heard one of them before.
Her lyrics are full of emotions and power, but it is her voice that really transfers the feelings onto the listener. I’d describe her music as soulful, sometimes funky, electronically influenced, galactic RnB. That she is not only a great singer but also a talented songwriter is proven by the fact that she’s co-written Stormzy’s “Velvet/Jenny Francis (Interlude)” which I personally loved for its depth and honesty.
Now last year, NAO released her latest project called “Saturn” and it absolutely amazed me. Listening to this album, it feels like she is taking you on a very personal spaceship ride right through her inner galaxy. Starting out right away with the first song “Another Lifetime” which is heartbreakingly beautiful (I absolutely love her reference to the concept of having multiple lifetimes and meeting certain people again in another). The next equally beautifully tragic song “Make It Out Alive” features the incredible SiR which I’ll most likely feature in one of my next Artist To Watch posts as well. Yeah… I could probably talk about every single song on this album but instead I will give you my personal highlights and then leave you to listen to it and make up your own mind.
First favorite I have to mention is “Saturn” with British singer Kwabs. It’s a beautiful, romantic duet which uses planet and zodiac sign metaphors in order to describe a relationship. “I love the way you open my heart, I feel you around me like Venus and Mars”, she sings, very #universey if you know, you know. The other song I want to emphasise is “Orbit”, equally universey and sooo, sooo magical.
Now while writing this, I am getting extra excited because I will finally be able to see NAO live in concert on my birthday next month. So if you find yourself loving her songs as much as I do check out her upcoming tour dates here and maybe you’ll be able to go to one of her concerts this or next month as well.
So for today’s *Artist to Watch* I want to introduce you to Pink Sweat$. Originally a songwriter from Philadelphia, this guy has now decided to start his own singing career. And I am glad he did! His songwriting story is interesting because he even wrote for Country artists “Florida Georgia Line” which honestly I hadn’t even heard of before. But I think that says a lot about his open-mindedness and his general love for music and meaningful lyrics. Why stick to just one genre when there is great stories to be told in all different types of music?
When reading Pink Sweat$’s interview with Billboard there were a few things he said that made me smile. Talking about the origin of his artist name “Pink Sweat$”, he explained that the name originated from him wearing his pink sweatpants to the studio all the time. The fact that the inspiration behind his love for pink was sparked by Cam’ron just shows that he’s not just a talented singer and songwriter but also a really cool guy.
Another thing I like about Pink Sweat$ is his critical view on the disrespect for women in the music industry especially in rap music and his emphasis on meaningful lyrics that move people and inspire them in a way that makes them want to share the music with others. Essentially he’s taking his talent for writing songs in order to spread more love in this world and I think that is a really beautiful thing.
Having lived in Philadelphia, New York and L.A. and having been strong enough to fight a rare disease that could’ve costed him his life, it seems that he’s found an inner balance that he is now able to channel through his own music. His first EP “Volume 1” consists of six songs that each are special in their own way. I personally am glad that he has decided to sing his own songs because his voice is way too powerful to remain hidden from our ears.
Now if you only ever just listen to one of his songs I want you to listen to “Honesty”. This 3:11 track has touched my soul right when I first listened to it. What makes it so special is that I think everyone can find something in it that they can relate to. The song is about making yourself vulnerable with someone else and revealing parts of yourself that you might prefer to keep to yourself. It is about the type of surrender that is required in order to open up to real profound love. I love it so much because it is encouraging depth and emotions in a time where most people hide behind their masks and protect themselves to the point where they deny their own soul.
Pink Sweat$’s mission is to touch people with his music and he really does have a gift in doing that. I’ve been listening to this EP over and over and I’m excited to know that Volume 2 is in fact already finished and on the way.
YES! YES! YES! One of my favourite artists Elujay just released his new EP “Adojio”. To give you a quick overview, he’s from Oakland, California, only 22 years old and draws his inspiration from soul legends like D’Angelo (he’s perfected that high pitched cry as you can hear on the track “Soulvision”).
If you’ve been listening to my SOUL GLITTER playlist you already know the second track from the EP called “Starchild” and I personally love the first song on this project titled “Spaceship”. As you probably know by now I have an especially close connection with the universe and so this song just speaks directly to my soul. “Come ride in my spaceship, I can show you different planets, all this time left alone, we can throw out our phones, open up our consciousness”, he sings. Towards the end of the song you can hear Ebro (radio host known from the Breakfast Club, also from Oakland) talking about Elujay on Apple radio station Beats 1 praising him for his soul sound. And I mean Ebro knows what’s up! Pretty confident and cool of Elujay to include that on his EP.
Another song I want to highlight is “Blu” because it’s just one of those songs where you can’t help but approvingly nod your head because you feel can feel it. And if you’re wondering now what I mean by “it”, then go listen to the song right now and you’ll know. Then, there’s more universey sound on “Soulvision”, you know talking about watching the stars and stuff and to finish it up, beautiful soulful electric guitar sound on “Champagne Galore”.
And now I just want to take this moment to thank Elujay for blessing us with his music and reminding us that future soul exists. Oh, well that reminds me, if you like this EP then I know you’ll enjoy my FUTURE SOUL playlist as well. Happy listening and happy first of February.