Nao: Saturn review – cosmopolitan R&B auteur evades the mainstream

(RCA Records)

Although she hasn’t exactly troubled the charts, Nao’s style defined a moment in the evolution of mainstream British R&B. Like many of her peers, she picked up the baton dropped by the elusive Jai Paul (even working with his brother, AK Paul), and did the most sophisticated job of anyone when it came to turning his trademark scrunched funk into classy pop: layering it beneath her impossibly sweet coos on 2014 EP So Good and writing potential anthems in devotional tracks such as Adore You on her 2016 debut album, For All We Know.

The question regarding Nao’s second album is whether she makes a push for the chart success that is surely within reach, or digs deeper into her auteurish groove. And on Saturn, although her sugary vocals have remained intact, her artistic and personal growth is evident.

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