Sometimes, life throws us so many curveballs that trying to catch them all feels near on impossible. As Nao discovers on Saturn, the universe shaking us off the path we've been so comfortable walking can actually be the biggest cosmic blessing of all. Her second album comes a result of the events of her life prior to writing it, events which can seemingly be explained by the theory that every thirty years or so, when Saturn returns to the position it occupied at the moment of your birth, you experience a shift: a time of change or a new phase of adulthood.
Saturn, the second largest planet in our solar system with an average radius nine times that of the earth and the title and central theme of NAO's sophomore album release. Neo Jessica Joshua is the British singer/songwriter who described her music as "wonky funk" with her 2016 debut release For All We Know. NAO commented on the album; "My friends kept telling me about the term 'Saturn Returns'.
New Musical Express (NME) - 80 Based on rating 4/5
An astronomical album, filled with blessings, Nao's second record fuses R&B and jazz to explore the hardships and feelings of being a modern-day black woman Nao had massive boots to fill after a debut as successful as 'For All We Know' - and she has done just that. With the new album, 'Saturn', she utilises twisted and imaginative flow and refreshing production to mesmerise the listener, placing us under her spell. Nao has one mission here: to make your nod your head and bop about as feel-good oozes out of your speakers.
Saturn's return looms over NAO's second album, an astrological phenomenon occurring in one's late 20s, when a monumental shift occurs. On Saturn, the London-based singer-songwriter delves into the difficulty and ecstasy of reasserting one's identity, pushing her sound into new realms. "Make It Out Alive," a moody, beat driven duet with SiR appears to set the tone of the album — but don't be fooled, this is just one side of the eclectic vision NAO brings forth. Her and SiR's harmonies coalesce, as a pensive, bass-led chorus spills forth ….
Saturn, the second album from London singer-songwriter Nao, is based on the Saturn return, that specter haunting all horoscopic astrology nerds in their late twenties, when the planet Saturn comes back to meet the same spot it was at your birth. Nao, loosely within that age bracket, is a shrewd observer of the phenomenon, which is said to leave all kinds of interpersonal grief and transformation in its wake. As the astrologer Chani Nicholas explained earlier this year, the Saturn return is a time when "we aren't so innocent, unformed, or new anymore"--a time when, "if we are lucky, we realize that no one is going to save us.
A lthough 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.
As sonically celestial as its namesake, Nao's 'Saturn' is coloured with wobbly synths and distorted vocals. Lyrically, the record doesn't stray far from domestic tales, but that only makes the contrast between the album's lyrics and instrumentals more compelling. Each track is woven with underwater percussion and veins of wonky funk notes, catapulting the record into orbit.