3 ways to practice Self-Care with NAO’s new album | And Then Life Was Beautiful

My time, your time, all we do is waste time
Fighting every day from the morning to the night time, I
I think that we should say goodbye, yeah, yeah, yeah
‘Cause I don’t wanna go through it

“Glad That You’re Gone” Nao

Nao released her third studio album “And Then Life Was Beautiful” on September 24th. “And Then Life Was Beautiful” marks the end of a creative drought. The London-based singer/songwriter is a mom now, and she’s full of confidence and wisdom.

Love is still the principal theme of her work. When she released “Saturn” in 2018, she still wanted to give it a shot, despite all of her emotional wounds. Three years later, learning how to love herself and putting herself first are significant parts of her healing process. Time is also a great ally to do so.  

She encourages us to do the same at the very beginning of the opus:

“Here’s a moment just to think about, think about
All that is you, all that is you, yeah, yeah, yeah
Take a second just to breathe it out, breathe it out
‘Til it feels it good, you’re doin’ so good”

(“And Then Life Was Beautiful”). 

Taking a break from life and looking at what we accomplished is a great way to feel better about ourselves. Especially during these difficult times. We have to learn to pat ourselves on the shoulder now and then, even for doing the smaller things.

Life is an emotional roller coaster

Red is the main color of the album cover. Red symbolizes life, passion, love, along with several types of contradictory emotions. This opus is about this roller coaster of emotions that create life. Sure, there are ups and downs, but they’re all beautiful in their way, and they all make sense in the end.

The album’s musicality is as diverse as the emotions that flow in it. “And Then Life Was Beautiful” is an ode to the R&B of the early 2000s. Afrobeats, ballads, and Gospel are a part of it too. The album cover also caught our eyes thanks to the sunflower Nao is holding. This flower represents joy, sunshine, and positivity.

Nao Mélanie Domergue

Careful, struggling to see positivity everywhere might become toxic. However, you can live day by day thinking that every experience is a way for you to grow and learn, whether it’s good or bad. “We ain’t perfect, we ain’t perfect, wait / The only way to learn is through mistakes”, as Nao sings in “Wait”. As humans, we want good things to happen fast, but we also have to learn to be kind and patient towards ourselves.

1. Chose yourself first

Step one: chose yourself. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes, especially when you know deep down you’re involved in a dead-end relationship. Nao isn’t afraid to do such a choice anymore: she’s clear about it in “Messy love”: “Everybody’s splintered and scarred with broken hearts / And I don’t wanna go back there, oh” or even in “Good Luck”: “I was drunk on love, now I’m sober / There’s no one to blame, let’s go our separate ways”.

She wants to take care of herself and not suffer like she used to do. She even shows how easy it is for her now to liberate herself when things don’t go her way. “Good Luck” and “Glad That You’re Gone” got these sassy lyrics and melodies showing that Nao put her happiness and her growth first.

2. Trying your best is good enough

However, acting like that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to push away everyone in your life. Just the toxic ones. When you learn how to treat yourself better and love yourself, you also learn how to love others. Becoming this better version of yourself isn’t easy, and it takes time, but as long as you try, it’s already worth it. Nao formulates it as a promise: “I promise that I’ll be a better friend / To you, to you next time when you come back” (“Better Friend”). Dosing self-love and love for others make a great antidote. 

Even when you try your best, you may fail at some point: at work, in a relationship… Or even when it comes to complete your daily to-do list. But Nao doesn’t want you to bring yourself down for that. There’s always a good reason for things not to happen. Trust the process and don’t surround yourself with negative energy. Slow down when you need to: “Go slow, there’s nothing to run for / ‘Cause we ain’t rushing no more, we got what we came for” (“Burn Out”).

3.“Nothing’s for sure”, so relax

Time is a big theme of “And Then Life Was Beautiful”. It’s also supposed to heal your wounds and make you stronger. That’s what happened with Nao. That’s what occurred to us in our lives or even during the pandemic. Nao insists that we have to focus on our present and let go of the past: “Just let the moment take you on its wings / Nothing’s for sure / Just go with the flow, let your spirit run free” (“Nothing’s For Sure”).

“And Then Life Was Beautiful” is a radiant album, and it’s full of hope. Time isn’t something we can control, but it can help us get better. Take things as they come, and remember it’s always darker before the dawn.

Nao studied vocal jazz at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. She’s been a backup singer for the English singer/songwriter Kwabs and the English musician Jarvis Cocker. Her first success was her first EP “So Good” (released in 2014), which reached number 4 on the iTunes electronic chart.

Later then, she got a Brit Award Nomination for her debut album “For All We Know” back in 2016. “And Then Life Was Beautiful” is a new chapter in her life as a woman and as an artist.

Mélanie Domergue

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