Alessia Cara • Know-It-All • Def Jam • Release Date: 11.13.15
Ah, there’s nothing like fresh blood… not in a vampire sort of way of course. No family, friends and fiends, there’s nothing like fresh blood in the music industry, particularly in pop and R&B circles. 19-year old Canadian newbie Alessia Cara clearly represents the new guard and aspires to be the ‘next big thing’ on her full-length debut, Know-It-All. Is Cara the second coming – you know the answer to that BTW. While she may not revolutionize or flip the game, she’s definitely a welcome new presence, which she successfully showcases on album number one.
Things start off exceptionally with the memorable, relatable “Seventeen” in which Cara sings, “I was too young to understand what it means / I couldn’t wait ‘til I could be seventeen / I thought he lied when he said take my time to dream/ Now I wish I could freeze the time at seventeen.” Basically, it’s the old eager to grow up then wishing for time to freeze/slow down.
“Seventeen” is a stand out itself, but it definitely can’t supplant “Here,” likely the reason Know-It-All scored a top-ten debut. Isaac Hayes has been sampled numerous times quite effectively, but once more the magic of his artistry shines through “Here,” an honest, confessional anthem about feeling out of place socially, specifically at a party in this instance. “Excuse me if I seem a little unimpressed with this,” she sings on the second verse, continuing, “An antisocial pessimist, but usually I don’t mess with this…but honestly I’d rather be/ somewhere with my people / we can kick it and just listen to / some music with a message…” Hard to top that…
“Outlaws” retains the soulfulness of “Here,” arguably amplifying it with its throwback touches. It doesn’t dare step on the toes of outgoing greatness, but definitely maintains the sentiment that Cara is an artist to take seriously. “I’m Yours” similarly keeps things on-point, aided by its relatively spry pace, sound vocals, and catchy songwriting, particularly the chorus.
“Four Pink Walls” gives Know-It-All another highlight drenched in authenticity. Why so authentic? It’s real talk about Cara achieving her dreams: “Then the universe aligned / with what I had in mind / who know there was a life / behind those four pink walls?” More artists would benefit from speaking upon their experiences. This is phenomenal for a musician as young as Cara.
Honesty and authenticity continue to be the M.O. on “Wild Things,” where Cara tells folks, “Find me where the wild things are…don’t mind us.” Preceding the key lyrics of the chorus, Cara shows her feistiness and carefree attitude about being different: “No mistakin’, we make our breaks, if you don’t like our 808s / then leave us alone, cause we don’t need your policies / we have no apologies for being…” GO ON GIRL!!!
“Stone” slackens the pace timely, showcasing the sheer beauty and expressiveness of Cara’s youthful pipes. Young she may be, but she sounds incredibly experienced by all means. “Overdose” picks up the tempo, driven by incredibly rhythmic drums.
Penultimate record “Stars” isn’t the most thrilling song of Know-It-All, but like everything else relatable – yearning for a relationship that you feel could be great. Often it’s that sense of having “stars in your eyes” and in this case, Cara thinks her and her potential lover “could be stars.” Closer “Scars To Your Beautiful” is uplifting; “You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are / and you don’t have to change a thing / the world could change its heart.”
If ten tracks of Cara isn’t enough, the deluxe version expands the tracklist by three songs – “Here – 2:00 AM Version,” “River of Tears,” and “My Song.” Regardless which version tickles your fancy, Know-It-All is a well-rounded, enjoyable album by all means. It’s not perfection exemplified, but there’s plenty to love about the album and Cara herself. Three cheers for Alessia Cara everyone!
Favorites: “Seventeen,” “Here,” “Four Pink Walls,” and “Wild Things”