1. Track List (60)

A Poet Of Pop Rises To Stardom Off Skill, Rather Than Sex, With Her ‘Know-It-All (Deluxe)’

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 7 mins read

Having only heard certain popular Alessia Cara singles such as the phenomenal hit “Scars To Your Beautiful” and the lesser DIY hit “I’m Yours”, I had not had the pleasure to listen to the album Know-It-All until recently when I decided to check out the deluxe version – which is a win form me, since there is more material to digest, while I seem to detect it is a loss for some commenters on the web, for they have said that the bonus additions are somewhat underwhelming. Alas, I take the experience only as a whole one, and what is abundantly clear is that this is a Pop artists who circumvents the need to be objectified, in favor of being more – shall we say relatable to the average teen going through growing pains at the minimum, or even deep personal crisis at the apex of lyrical and melodic content. I do remember that when Alessia Cara hit the scene she dressed modestly, represented a youthful view of things, and tended to sing about more poetic, psychological happenings, versus the overly escapist or hyper sexual concepts which also flooded the scene from 2015 to now. We definitely need Alessia Cara’s on the scene, and together with veterans like Sia, and newer freshman like today’s popular Billie Eilish. Introverts are especially welcome here, as you will probably relate to Cara’s music more than anyone, whether is is up or downtempo.

Fresh Off The Bat, Alessia Cara Shows Why She Is One Of The Voices Of Now

There’s Synth Pop, and then there’s commercial Synth Pop – yet hear me out. “Seventeen” learns from everything that worked in music before it – such as the dichotomy of quiet measures and huge hooks, yet instantly rewrites the norm here by actually applying the same level of noise to both parts. A very cool decision. Then there is the bombastic boom-clap Pop beat, totally motivating my attention, while the very low motoring synth builds in not such a predictable way. If this was the first time hearing Alessia Cara’s voice – you would, or should, be blown away -especially as such a young woman, talking about young woman concepts, rarely sounds so womanly. Gone also is the cliched whispery nonsense that passes for singing – no thanks to so many cookie cutter artists after the same market. No – Cara can freaking sing – she has pipe which are full of breath and need no auto-tune, Melodyne, or vocal trickery. I’m not a vocalist – just a music fan, but I do wonder if someone as young as Alessia Cara, with vocals and range such as she displays on her debut album Know-It-All (Deluxe), couldn’t reach a Sia level talent one day?

Though The Core Music Is Influential For The Scene, The Bonus Material Isn’t All Particularly Special

Sorry, but I must point out some limitations herein, not with this young woman’s voice, but rather with her sometimes underwhelming, or moreover, teasing melodies, evidenced by the stripped down remix of “Here (2:00 AM Version).” On the one hand, homegirl is going for an R&B moment, probably channeling her inner Lauryn Hill, but the clear problem, made much more noticeable by the last of super symphonic digital backing, is that the basic undercurrent of a song is no more grand than a non-description piano melody supporting a vocal exercise . The notes just keep treading the same territory ad nauseam, yet never ‘get there’, but rather just devolve into the big hook and the accompanying who-oh-ohs, a clear indication of creative exhaustion. What’s funny is that I didn’t dig the song that much to begin with, writing it off as a typical Pop EDM mash up, beholden to it’s ‘drop’ and not really trying to be a well written ballad about being the quintessential wallflower non participant moody teen; “I just came to kick it but really/ I would rather be at home all by myself not in this room / with people who don't even care about my well being.” I think there is a space for music about the rage associated with not wanting to ‘fit’ in, yet this song is surprisingly hollow when stripped down to it’s naked Soul.” I find that I appreciate more this acoustic take on “River of Tears”, for it’s raw vocal emotion, and for some of the smart chord usage underscoring the somber atmosphere as it unfolds, though, if I must be real, there is nothing terrible impressive about the notes being played here. “My Song” at least tries a little to make a statement, with some essential volume, yet the song does feel like it is still in its demo form, where ideas are brought together to create a cohesive movement, but it feels like the result is half baked. Add in a bigger hook part and some who-ohs, and this song would like to call itself done, but I must call it something else privately.

As Important As This Album Was, I Find That I Prefer Her Latest Even More In Comparison

All the songs here have promise and talent, but I find they also play it too safe for my tastes. I mean, am I really going to play these tracks, however ‘motivational’, over and over again? The answer for most of them is no. I like the sonic attitude and actual instrumentation of “I’m Yours”, especially when the very versatile and original beat comes slamming in, but the notes are to be expected. “Four Pink Walls” is strange and funky, finding Alessia Cara doing her Amy Winehouse impersonation, and it does transcend such a category with lots of colorful creative parts that move it into more Soul territory than Pop territory, especially with its jazzy little classic Hip Hop breakdown moments. “Wild Things” is not a track for me, but it has an adventurous atmosphere perfect for fans of Sia. Love the harmonizing on “Stone” and some of the uncharted territory explored with the very subtle melody, though this is a vocal forward track all the way. “Overdose” is heavy on the boom clap theatrics, and has a definite edge and creative spark, but comes off, again, a little dull-noted, with the only thought provoking sounds existing for me in parts of the chorus. “Scars to Your Beautiful” is the big anthem clearly, but is this a song, or just a really really loud PSA? For many, this is memorable music, so I have to defer to the majority on that one I suppose. In comparison, I find that this mega talented artists has developed her sound immensely, applying her already powerful vocal shops to more adventurous melodies and beats on her next album, The Pains of Growing, where the songs themselves have more room to grow and seek new avenues. Check it out, especially if you are already a fan of this first one.

From a young girl on Know-It-All to a woman on The Pains of Growing, Alessia Cara brings mature soul to bubblegum pop

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 4 mins read

Canadian import Alessia Cara moves on from her commercially successful yet formulaic Know-It-All and offers a much better album, The Pains of Growing, showing that she is an artist who will surely continue to evolve as she advances within an almost assured career. Where the previous album was typically angsty and geared toward kids trying to ‘figure it all out’, the synth anthems there were bombastic shout out loud tracks that literally everyone was doing at the time, and I was always curious why Cara got singled out as the harbinger of some new special sound. Some chalked it up to her clever lyrical style which resonated with the youth, yet on her latest album, Cara brings nuanced writing and finer arrangements, this time differentiating herself from the current pop pack.

Pop at its pinnacle thanks to Cara’s superior songwriting skills

Lots of great material exists on The Pains of Growing, including some truly original work – like one of my favorite tracks on the album, “All We Know”, a new type of synth arrangement that lulls you in with swirling, haunted chords, while Alessia Cara sings perfect lyrics to match this ‘c’est la vie’ attitude of the sound scape; “round and round and round it goes / heroes fall like dominoes / we try to help it but we won't / all we know is that we don't.” The last line there is so magical and memorable, and serves as a reminder that Cara is one of the smartest writers in the game. The oscillating finger snaps of title track “Growing Pains” precede a soul stirring explosion of sound which hits you in the pit of your stomach – urging us to confront whatever conflict ails us because coming of age is painful, sure, but also a beautiful learning experience – as the hook melodically exemplifies.

On a few cuts, Cara’s voice and attitude comes off as too cookie cutter

I tire of the Adele/Amy Winehouse vibe that Pop artists seem to not be able to shake. While there is nothing specifically wrong with the old fashioned R&B track “Comfortable”, it is cookie cutter sixties soul, which would have been completely unmemorable if released in its day. We’re talking an Aretha Franklin c-side here. The retro instrumentation and vocalization hit their respective marks, but this revivalist genre has had its day man – now sounding painfully dull and predictable. “Girl Next Door” is another one that doesn’t grab me because it sounds like every female singer busking on 3rd street promenade in Santa Monica. The whole raspy-yodel-folk-soul-over-an-acoustic-shuffle here is incessantly annoying – we’ve heard this freakin’ song so many times – and it is in these times when Alessia Cara sounds just like everybody else.

Variety creates a re-listenable experience rivaling the same sounding Know-It-All

There’s a lot of variety on The Pains of Growing and certainly something for everyone. The best Pop tends to do that; contrary to how the big stars in the industry were operating not so long ago, where a trend like synth pop or downtempo alternative R&B was seized upon and overly incorporated into a whole album’s sound. For the record, the synth pop contained herein is amazingly well done, and these experiences come with other distinct flavors, like folk acoustic, modern R&B, and motivational Pop. The Soul numbers were too uninspired for my tastes, though perhaps not for yours, and so add that to the collage of your experience, as you follow the ups and downs of Alessia Cara’s life on this autobiographical album.

3. Official (12)

4. Audio (60)

5. Live (49)

6. Featuring Remixes (47)

7. Albums (14)

8. News (21)

9. Covers (288)

11. Similar Artists (15)

12. Artist Info

About

Alessia Caracciolo (Italian: [aˈlɛssja kaˈrattʃolo]; born July 11, 1996), known professionally as Alessia Cara (/əˈlɛsiə ˈkɑːrə/), is a Canadian singer, songwriter and instrumentalist. After producing acoustic covers, she signed with EP Entertainment and Def Jam Recordings in 2014 and released her debut single the following year. "Here" reached number 19 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart and was a sleeper hit in the United States, peaking at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
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Born

    1996-07-11

Active

    2014–present

Label

  • EP Entertainment
  • Def Jam