Nao's voice glows even in her darkest moments, warm and radiant as a sparkle of fireflies in a mason jar. Since her breakout 2016 album For All We Know, that voice has channeled love and affection in nearly all its forms: love of self, love for your parents, every stage of romance from intoxicating first contact to awkward break-ups. Sometimes, relationships are redefined on songs like Know's "In The Morning" or altogether broken on "Make It Out Alive," a single from her second album, 2018's astrology-themed Saturn.
The sugary vocal stylings of Nao have been a staple of British music for a fair few years now, whether on original tracks like Another Lifetime and Bad Blood or collaborations with electronic figureheads such as Mura Masa and Disclosure. With her third album, And Then Life Was Beautiful, she delivers some chunky neo-soul grooves, lush instrumentation and lyrics generally focusing on self-discovery. Glad That You're Gone is a fine example, with its delicious vocal harmonies on the hook and backbeat that could have been lifted straight from a Flying Lotus tune ("Rather be alone than to beg you to stay / rather lose it all than hold on to this pain / no I won’t cry, no tears from me / you know I’m fine, I’ll be okay") while Better Friend holds out the hand of solidarity over a topline that bears more than a passing resemblance to Ariana Grande's thank u, next.
After the past turbulent year and a half, it's easy to question what makes life beautiful. On her third studio album Nao articulates her own journey into how she discovered an answer. 'And Then Life Was Beautiful' is a radiant guide through the personal journey Nao has been on and will touch the hearts of those willing to listen. The euphoria of the album begins with the titular 'And Then The World Was Beautiful'.