Music Review: @AlessiaCara – Know-It-All

For the past couple years, Alessia Cara made many waves online with her various covers. The 19-year-old Torontonian next caught many ears with the fear-of-going-out, anti-summer jam (which still became a summer jam) “Here,” from her Four Pink Walls EP. “Here,” while somewhat teenybopper in subject, was still wise beyond her years and served as the hook which got me further intrigued about what she could do musically. Plus, the producers of the track, Sebastian Kole and Pop & Oak, sampled Isaac Hayes. So, you can imagine my joy when Ms. “Good Girls Don’t Make History” released her debut LP Know-It-All. Please note that this review will cover the Deluxe Edition of the project.
Anyone who heard the Four Pink Walls project will have already heard the first five songs. I’ll say this on these first five songs and move on: the singles (“Here” and “I’m Yours”) and “Seventeen” are pretty legit tracks. “Seventeen” features more of that “wise-beyond-her-years” energy I discussed earlier while still being a song your under-21 crowd can relate to on several levels. Cara’s multi-layered vocals are an additional strength of these tracks. However, I’m still not a big fan of the decision to reuse the entire EP to make up the first tracks of the album.
“Wild Things” feels a bit like Lorde’s “Team,” even down to some of the lyrics. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But, it adds a bit of a “I’ve heard this before” feel to the track. However, Cara’s vocals save subject matter that can seem, at times, pedestrian. After “Wild,” we get the Sebastian Kole-aided “Stone.” Vocally and topic-wise, this feels a lot like it could’ve fit on 25. Now, I know that I’ve said that I’m not the biggest fan of 25 (it’s kind of boring). But, a song asking for someone to “be my source of gravity when my world’s unraveling” fits that Adele scheme. The stripped-down instrumentation of this track allows Cara’s voice to do what we’ve seen her do in her covers.
“Overdose” is your typical “your love is my drug” track. The second verse of the song, while simplistic, hammers the imagery home more-efficiently than some other tracks of this nature. Production-wise, it’s not my favorite track (it feels less inspired than others on the album). But, when the final chorus begins, there’s a moment where the instrumental becomes just the piano’s melody. That moment, for me, further displays Cara’s youth in a positive light. The next song, “Stars,” is beautiful. I’ve always been a sucker for simple instrumentation on songs like this, but Cara’s requests for her lover to, for instance, “come home” and “shed [the] facade to just be who we are” hits hard over the piano-only instrumental. “Scars To Your Beautiful” feels like an R&B version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” mixed with Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.” It’s a critique of the “standards” of beauty and convention while still being an empowering song. 
As the album winds down, we’re given the “2:00 AM Version” of “Here.” The bluesy version of this track feels even more like “Ike’s Rap II” than the original. It’s a thing of beauty which removes the poppy energy of this anthem and re-purposes it as an even-stronger song. It’s a bit surprising that this version hasn’t caught on more than it has. And it sets up for some of the strongest songs of the album (“River Of Tears” and “My Song”). 
Ultimately, Cara’s strength is more ballad-y than “Here” would make some believe. Is the album perfect? No, but, like Dej Loaf’s And See That’s The Thing, the hiccups show that this young woman still has room to grow and further cement her legacy in the music game. Her voice is powerful but still airy enough to not feel like she’s beating you over the head with her voice. Additionally, her songwriting, while it sometimes shows that she is still growing, shows true emotion. Therefore, Know-It-All is an album that’s worth a purchase.
Final Verdict: Buy

Standout Tracks: “Here (2:00 AM Version),” “River Of Tears,” “I’m Yours,” “Scars To Your Beautiful”
Speed on the Beat

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