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Know-It-All

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Alessia Cara 11/13/2015

Review

The teenage wallflower anthem "Here," Alessia Cara's debut for Def Jam, was released in May 2015 and sounded nothing like the hits -- such as the Weeknd's "Earned It," Omarion's "Post to Be," and Rihanna's "B**** Better Have My Money" -- that were at or around the top of Billboard's R&B chart. Even with instant recognition of the Isaac Hayes sample that drives it, "Here" sounded distinct, not only because its tracing of social anxieties was so palpable, but also because Cara sounded remarkably poised for her age. Three months later, the song appeared on Four Pink Walls, the debut EP from the Canadian singer and songwriter. None of the other four songs eclipsed that Top Ten R&B single, but each one of them was sturdy, fusing and switching between smart pop and R&B constructions as Cara sang about growing up and falling in love. The EP closed with the title track, a melodious and triumphant piece of hip-hop soul where Cara reflected on her early success, knowing she had it in her while in a state of dazed disbelief nonetheless. Four Pink Walls is repeated as the first half of the full-length Know-It-All. Its all-new second half begins with "Wild Things," a theme for a clique of mild-mannered misfits, and concludes with the tactful "Scars to Your Beautiful," addressed to girls and women with a negative self-image. Between those two numbers, Cara straightforwardly longs and seeks stability, and then uses substance abuse and amusement park metaphors for a bumpy relationship. At all times, Cara is levelheaded, wise beyond her late-teen years -- something that comes across through her observations -- and she has a measured delivery and faintly grainy voice to match. Discovered through YouTube, she was smartly set up with Andrew "Pop" Wansel and Warren "Oak" Felder, whose input here as producers and fellow songwriters complements what they've done beside the likes of Chrisette Michele, Alicia Keys, Tamia, and especially Elle Varner. Upcoming songwriter Coleridge Tillman (aka Sebastian Kole) also contributes. Going by the level of potential shown here, it's evident that Cara will eventually need a lot less creative assistance. ~ Andy Kellman
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Seventeen Alessia Cara 3:31
  3. 2 Here Alessia Cara 3:18
  4. 3 Outlaws Alessia Cara 3:23
  5. 4 I'm Yours Alessia Cara 3:46
  6. 5 Four Pink Walls Alessia Cara 3:31
  7. 6 Wild Things Alessia Cara 3:7
  8. 7 Stone Alessia Cara 3:46
  9. 8 Overdose Alessia Cara 3:28
  10. 9 Stars Alessia Cara 3:38
  11. 10 Scars to Your Beautiful Alessia Cara 3:50

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