Exclaim!'s Top 15 Soul and R&B Albums Best of 2016

6. NAO
For All We Know
(Little Tokyo Recordings)
London R&B star NAO took the world by storm this year with the self-described "wonky funk" heard on her debut LP, For All We Know. Her cooing vocals and stratospheric range combine with smart guitar licks, infectious beats and exquisite production to get listeners dancing. Her songs are dramatic, exploding into unforgettable choruses as on single "Girlfriend," but intimate voice memos from her time as a backup singer hold the whole thing together, showing the history of her career up to this point.
NAO's multifaceted nature is plenty evident here, from the delicate "Blue Wine" to the relentless groove of the "DYWM" refrain. "We Don't Give A" is full of attitude and funk-inspired bass, while "Fool to Love" is rhythmically off-kilter, with a smooth vocal hook. NAO is an artist working on her own terms, and by doing so, she has created an endlessly inviting sound and an unforgettable debut.
Anna Alger