Alessia Cara
Know-It-All


3.7
great

Review

by DaveyBoy STAFF
November 12th, 2015 | 68 replies


Release Date: 11/13/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Canadian teenager plots the grid-points to success & comes up with a style all of her own.

Success in the music industry – especially when it comes to the pop genre – can sometimes be akin to playing the game of Battleship. One can be so close to sinking an opponent’s ships, yet so far away if they don’t hit the exact sweet spot that is required. If her debut LP ‘Know-It-All’ is anything to go by, then Canadian teenager Alessia Cara appears to have been doing some grid work on her sound; plotting points between a number of prosperous artists who have laid the groundwork before her. While this seems overly calculated on paper, Cara comes up with a style all of her own, undeniably adding her personality to these ten tracks. Subtly exploring pop, soul and contemporary R&B, the nineteen year old recalls everyone from Lauryn Hill to Alicia Keys, and Lorde to Rihanna, on this thirty-five minute record... Often within the same song!

With nods to Lorde’s ‘Royals’, U.S. top 20 hit ‘Here’ is the undoubted standout among the pack; a smartly written contrarian anthem that is relatable to anyone who has been forced to attend a party that they did not want to. The remaining tracks of the first half of this LP all satisfyingly add further pieces to the Alessia Cara puzzle. Opener ‘Seventeen’ is backed by hip-hop inspired beats, ‘Outlaws’ adds some doo-wop backing vocals, horns and piano, ‘I’m Yours’ has some chart-baiting catchiness, while the impressive ‘Four Pink Walls’ infuses neo-soul into the mix. In all cases, Cara’s tales are authentic, vulnerable and interesting, while the writing is thoughtful and mature beyond her years. She excels with an almost scat-like sing/speak technique that enhances relatability and accentuates her grainy, soulful vocals, while masking a lack of strength and range.

Anyone would think that these five tunes would make for an excellent EP... And they did – in exactly the same order - just seventy-seven days earlier on the ‘Four Pink Walls’ EP. Of the most recently recorded latter half, recent single ‘Wild Things’ and empowerment anthem ‘Scars to Your Beautiful’ are probably the most indicative of the teenager’s future direction; being slick and catchy tunes that thankfully retain Cara’s likable personality. Otherwise, however, it all feels a little rushed to capitalize on the hype train, with the singer-songwriter’s exploration into extremes falling relatively flat. Both the acoustic-driven ‘Stone’ and piano-driven ‘Stars’ are fine songs in isolation, but too generic to differentiate them from the ballads of other female vocalists who own a much stronger voice. More worrying is ‘Overdose’, an over-produced electro-banger that multi-tracks Cara’s vocals to the point of distraction.

While it doesn’t actually sound like either debut album, ‘Know-It-All’ has much in common with both Adele’s ‘19’ and Ellie Goulding’s ‘Lights’. All three records share a relatively unique take on female-sung pop music, but are inconsistent offerings by talented artists searching for their true sound. One of those Brits honed in on her strengths and arguably became the most successful female singer in the world. The other – possibly due to label pressures – descended into clubby dime-a-dozen electro-pop. One can only hope that Alessia Cara can receive the future support of her label (Def Jam Recordings, no less) to continue to make the music which she wants to, and which best suits her strengths. If that is the case, then the sky may well be the limit.

Recommended Tracks: Here, Four Pink Walls, Wild Things & I’m Yours.



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user ratings (43)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
November 11th 2015


22454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

3

0

0



‘Here’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKp2CrfmVfw

‘Playing Battleship With Death’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkZeUa53Jyg

musicallychallenged
November 11th 2015


519 Comments


great review. also would like to compliment you for putting all those recs in

Digging: Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2015


22454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Thanks. And no problems... It's a defining characteristic of sorts. In this case, I don't exactly know who she sounds most like though.

wtferrothorn
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2015


5769 Comments


Oh shit, congrats on your 300th review! and it's a nice one as well. I like that Battleship analogy in that 1st paragraph, but I feel like it's more of an argument to check the EP rather than the entire album. Besides that, you've got me interested.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2015


22454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Thanks wtf... Glad that Battleship analogy went down ok.



Different people treat this type of situation differently when it comes to ratings. I'm fairly certain that Sowing rated down Zella Day's LP because most of the highlights appeared on a previous EP. That's exactly the case here too, but I've tried not to let that effect my rating. So yes, if you just check out the EP here, you'll be fine.

LordePots
November 12th 2015


38089 Comments


i dunno dude. i was all amped up to hear the ep cuz of that one song with the Portishead slash Tricky rip-off beat but when i ended up listening to it there was only one other good song and the rest were super garbage. too bad. probably pass on this.

Digging: Alyss - Motherland

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2015


22454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

The song you speak of Pots is indeed 'Here'. But yeah, if you didn't like 3 out of the 5 tracks on the EP, then it's best to move along.

LordePots
November 12th 2015


38089 Comments


The song you speak of Pots is indeed 'Here'.


i c

wut u did

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2015


22454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Haha. Did you click here

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 12th 2015


25033 Comments


Holy crap I did not realize you had that many reviews, I kind of thought I was the only one approaching that number. Awesome work as usual, you convinced me to listen to 'Here' and I liked it, so I'll add this to my list of stuff to hear by the end of 2015 if I don't cave and just listen to the whole thing today.



Digging: Brand New - Science Fiction

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2015


22454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Don't worry Sowing, you'll pass me soon enough.

alienobserver
November 12th 2015


3863 Comments


i haven't checked the rest of the ep besides here but i'l check this

Digging: Lil Peep - California Girls

anarchistfish
November 12th 2015


26041 Comments


heard Here when it had like 700 views. didn't find out for a few months that it'd blown up

other songs she released sounded boring though

Digging: 21 Savage, Offset and Metro Boomin - Without Warning

LordePots
November 12th 2015


38089 Comments


Wow u heard it before it was popular wow

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2015


24412 Comments


i liked her EP. one of the few artists Jimmy Fallon had on his show that were actually good

anarchistfish
November 12th 2015


26041 Comments


yh i did

guess im edgier than you now

wtferrothorn
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2015


5769 Comments


ok yeah i checked the EP and didn't really feel it. "Outlaws" was nice and "Here" wasn't that bad, but the rest just felt like really basic mainstream pop. I'm guessing that means I wouldn't like this too much.

SapphireFace
November 12th 2015


73 Comments


i am not feeling the EP but she's got a really great voice

ArsMoriendi
November 12th 2015


21999 Comments


She kind of looks like the actor who played Maeby in Arrested Development without the freckles.

Digging: Slint - Spiderland

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2015


22454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Wow fishy (you edge so & so), I did just see how many views that Yt link had. Bigger than even I thought.



"the rest just felt like really basic mainstream pop".

You're a hard man to please wtf. Wouldn't Miley, Swifty & Co. be really basic mainstream pop? This has hints of new-soul & contemporary R&B imo.



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