Honest and vulnerable soul-juice…
In August 2015, 19 year old Alessia Cara released her five-track EP, “Four Pink Walls”, on Def Jam / Virgin EMI. The song “Here” became an instant hit, rolling effortlessly on a sample of the smooth and cool beat and bass from Portishead’s “Glory Box”, which again was based on Isaac Hayes’ 1971 “Ike’s Rap II”. Now we finally get her much-awaited debut album, “Know-It-All”.
The first five tracks are basically the “Four Pink Walls” EP, in the same sequence as on the EP. Adding five new tracks, we’ve got ourselves an album. What we’re dealing with, is an album that has a lot of different genres in it. Soul, R&B, Rock, Hip Hop, Country and Pop. And a little Electro.
The album starts out with “Seventeen”, and Alessia Cara has a beautiful voice which leads into a song about how nice it would be to freeze the time when you’re 17, and that when you’re a teenager, you want to leave childhood as fast as possible, sometimes not realising how free you actually are right this moment. Who wouldn’t want to go back and do some things over?
“Here” appeals to me a lot, because the lyrics is about feeling like an outsider at a party, something most people have experienced as a teenager. The whole mood in the song, partially thanks to the alluring bass, beat and strings legacy of Hayes/Portishead, makes you relax and listen, and Alessia certainly has a lot on her mind in this song.
Going into “Outlaws”, we get a song about sticking up for your soulmate, no matter what. The catchy beat and the piano in the background, the saxophone, we’re in Soul territory
“I’m Yours” suddenly sounds a lot more modern, and the guitars is a very welcome touch. I think the song would have sounded very different without it. Lyric-wise, we get a humble Alessia, expressing her woes about falling in love again. We’ve all been hurt once or twice. This track is a real stadium-sized song, and it’s not hard to imagine the light show for this song at a large dark venue. Lighters up!
“Four Pink Walls” marks the end of the EP track list. Featuring a Hip Hop beat and scratch details, Alessia talks about wanting to do more with her life as she grew up, and she deals with how her career suddenly changed her life, almost over night.
“Wild Things” is another song with a very catchy chorus. Singing about not wanting to be a part of the conformities and rules, she wants to go her own way, having no regrets and apologies. You can find her where the Wild Things are.
“Stone” sends us into Country music territory. Reminding me of a little Norah Jones-like style, the song has several well-tuned voice overlays, with Sebastian Kole as the deeper part of the chorus, as does parts of the verses. The song is a slow and steady love song, about your loved-one being the cornerstone of your life, when the rest of the world is chaos. We get both strings and acoustic guitar, and dampened drums to soften it all up. Very nice song to listen to, when you’re thinking about someone you love
“Overdose” starts as a potential club-hit, but lacks the heavy beats during the verses to be a such. The song is about getting over someone that just got under your skin, and messed with your mind. Constant highs and lows makes for one hell of a rollercoaster ride of a relationship, and this is one way of dealing with it.
“Stars” features just Alessia’s clear voice and a piano. Singing about being a little scared of letting down your guards, if you can just get a little patience and love, this thing between you and I could make us one – We could be stars. Beautiful song, just listen to the lyrics.
“Scars To Your Beautiful” has a deep meaning about the perception of beauty in a modern world. “You don’t have to change a thing, the world can change its heart” says it all. A more heavy beat with a touch of electro in the keyboard section.
The voice of Alessia Cara reminds me of Rhianna, being soft, but still with a prominent rawness, it is clear that she can definitely hold her own. Very impressive performance for such a young age, and I can certainly see her performing on large arenas. The way she moves effortless between so many genres, really shows her talent. It’ll be exciting to see if her next album has the same span, or if she will concentrate more on a few or a single genre.
I don’t really see any instant club-hits (not without a remix with heavier beats), but I don’t think that’s really necessary. You see, the last 5-10 years, most albums released needed to contain at least one track with club-potential. It is wonderfully refreshing to listen to an artist, especially so young and on a debut album, that goes against this trend, and puts out an album with just good and honest songs, nothing else. More albums should be about this – telling stories, making you think, making you relate to the lyrics. Alessia Cara succeed in this regard. Well done in my book!
Alessia Cara “Know-It-All Track LIst
4. I’m Yours
5. Four Pink Walls
6. Wild Things
7. Stone (featuring Sebastian Kole)
10. Scars To Your Beautiful
11. Here (2:00 AM Version) – Bonus track
12. River of Tears – Bonus track
13. My Song – Bonus track
14. I’m Yours (Live) – Bonus track
15. Wild Things (Acoustic Version) – Bonus track