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.
Listen up! The two Nigerian-American sisters Ivana and Jessica Nwokike, who originally started out covering songs on Youtube, officially known as “VanJess” just released their debut album “Silk Canvas” and it is just as soulful, soothing and beautiful as I expected it to be. Also I really love the meaning behind the album name, Silk representing the smoothness of their voices and the Canvas signifying new beginnings and starting over fresh. This is also crazily in line with the longest lunar eclipse of the century taking place tonight…coincidence? I don’t think so!
The song formula of this album is a good bass base, a chill tone of voice and deep metaphorical lyricism. The album starts off slow and calm with songs like “My Love” and “Control Me” and then moves on to more upbeat tracks like “Touch The Floor” and energetically uplifting ones like “Through Enough” and “‘Til Morning”.
I would also like to mention the brilliance of choice of features on this project; Masego, GoldLink, Berhana (which I have featured on here before), Leikeli47 and Little Simz! Whut? *sparkles*
My personal favorites are “Filters” and “Best Believe” and if you’ve been listening to my Spotify playlists (find me “chainless11”) you should already know the songs “Addicted” and “Easy”. Regardless, just listen to the whole thing yourself, enjoy and Happy Lunar Eclipse everyone!
So today I want to give you that new new, that freshest of the freshest. I want to introduce you to an artist who I know for sure you haven’t heard of yet. His name is Cris V, he’s from Long Beach, California and he’s 26 years old. I think every artist is unique and no two voices really sound the same BUT I can’t hold back from saying that Cris’ voice is giving me some serious nostalgic Musiq Soulchild vibes in the best way possible! When he sings he’s transferring his positive energy onto his listener and it feels like he’s telling you a story.
On his Soundcloud you can listen to the development of his songs over the past 3 years. His lyrics are real, honest and relatable and most likely to have you in your feelings a bit. My personal favorite of his Soundcloud songs is “Too Much“, so make sure you check that one out.
Now, Cris has released his first EP called “Note To My Younger Self”. His first single from that is “Where I’m From”, a suuper chill song that includes jammy guitar sounds and a very smoothly embedded rap part. You should also watch the video because it’s NICE. In the end he says “This is the type of joint that you can play back to back, back to back, it’s old school, it’s like putting on a record player, walking down the street with the walkman on” and I completely agree. On the track “Teenager” he sings about his first love, the struggle that is connected to that and the hope that they might have a chance of getting back together in the future. My favorite song on the EP is “Good Enough”, a song about an insecure girl who he is telling that she is beautiful the way she is. Kind of like the smoother R&B version of “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction haha and I love that song so this is definitely a compliment. All in all, I think Cris is just getting started and this EP shows his great talent and potential, I can’t wait to see where it will take him.
So go check him out and tell me what you think. And remember where you heard it first.