Album Review: Alessia Cara’s full length debut, ‘Know It All: Deluxe’ is here

Alessia Cara has since become a hero to her fellow ‘anti-social pessimists’ since the release of her breakout hit “Here.” The nineteen year old has garnered her own fan base of socially awkward outsiders in this crazy world, and she wouldn’t have it any other way– or at least we can assume from her full length album Know It All.

The thirteen songs are filled with the impending thought of adulthood, love, youth, coming of age, and heartache. It’s a wonder how all these lessons of truth can be fit into one album, but on the business side, it’s the better move for Cara to have taken. 

Filling up the top half of the album are pre-released tracks off of Cara’s EP effort, Four Pink Walls. You can read my review here. Luckily for Cara, these are her strongest and catchier hits, mixing a sense of coming of age and the wistfulness of youth. “Seventeen” still remains as the biggest potential hit, with nostalgic lyrics and the heavy weight of an iconic pop song.

With the burden of a potential mega hit, which Cara knows well, there’s always an inevitable downfall where other songs just don’t live up to the hype.

“Wild Things,” is a rebellious lyrical statement, but instead of a firm stance in independence, Cara sings, “We will carve our place / into time and space / We will find our way / Or we’ll make a way.” It takes the solidarity and independent approach to “Here” and “I’m Yours” that truly capture the type of music Cara should be making, and twists it into a manufactured “all __ stick together” approach. It takes the ‘outsiders’ comradery and makes it a joke.

An ongoing theme in Know It All is the solidarity against the norm. With lyrics like: “Don’t wanna hang around the in crowd / the cool kids aren’t cool to me / they’re not cooler than we are” (“Wild Things”). And: “But since my friends are here / 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” (“Here”).

While the lyrics remain to have either a rebellious tendency, or an over exemplifying scope of love, Cara remains self-aware of the fact that many will villainize or demean it. When she sings, “I’m mad that you’re so cute,” or the unflinchingly honest tale of “Overdose,” there’s a sense of hyperawareness to the lyrics. In her ballads, Cara gets chest deep into her stories of love and wistfulness, and her soulful voice aches for the listener to understand it wasn’t just “young love.” It pleads for recognition from a listener. Cara scrutinizes her own lyrics, love, and life on the surface, but keeps the universal meaning hidden.

The fact is that Know It All is shaped for one type of listener. It is artfully crafted to appeal to the people who are the ‘anti-social pessimists.’

It’s not that it’s a bad album, and it won’t be Cara’s last. It’s more of an introduction to her fans, for them to be able to get to know the real Alessia Cara.

It’s just the matter of whether or not someone outside of her fan base will want to listen.

7/10

Know It All is released through Def Jams Record 2015, a division of UMG Recordings INC. You can purchase Alessia Cara’s album now.

 

Brooke Pawling Stennett is a college student pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism and Creative Non-Fiction in the old Windy City. She tends to lean toward the obsessive side of the tracks when it comes to books and music. She's an avid concert attendee (or at least she tries to!) and rambler. She'd like to travel the world and write about it, but in the only ways she knows how: sarcastically and full of internet jargon. Her opinions are her best ones, especially if they involve boy-bands and Netflix. . .even though she doesn't even have her own account. You can tweet her at @br_stennett and tell her how ridiculous (and totally great!) her opinions are.