Canadian born singer songwriter Alessia Cara is Def Jam‘s latest attempt at corralling that meaty part of the pop curve; a young, tenderhearted darling who’ll serve as this generation’s social compass.
She’s got it all: the racially ambiguous look, the sweet, malleable voice and the youthful persona that has yet to be typecast. Her debut album Know It All is a Dear Abbey album that looks to answer all the woes that come with being a confused adolescent. In other words it’s a wastebasket album full of easy answers and vague self-help mantras.
Cara’s hit single “Here” set the stage for her coming out party, a run-of-the-mill song tailor made for the socially awkward outcast who somehow keeps finding themselves in the same situation over and over again. It’s an easy formulaic hit, one that’s been beaten to death a hundred times over by the Avril Lavignes and Pinks of the pop world. It’s an audible pat on the back, the all-inclusive participation ribbon, a stomach churning “you can do it” anthem that generalizes all of life’s pursuits: [LISTEN]
If she’s not talking about how different she is (as in different like everybody else) then she’s indulging in mediocre love songs, the same type of love people feel when talking about sunny days and hamburgers, a love that is as generic as bottom shelf cereal.
It wouldn’t be as gut wrenching if she didn’t pretend to have all the answers. On “Seventeen” for example Cara blabs on about how naive she was and how at 19 she’s learned everything there is to life. That phoniness of character is a ruse, and a limp way to introduce your creative self to the world: [LISTEN]
Stylistically Know It All hovers between a Rihanna clone and a Carly Rae Jepsen stunt double. And it’s not all her fault; it’s the machine at work (Def Jam), feeling out her fanbase and letting the numbers determine the next step. It’s the same as taking a hot, seething dump on her potential.
Alessa Cara has all the tools to be something great, but the filter Def Jam is siphoning her through is diluting any shot at originality, which is comedic because all she’s preaching about is individuality. Each song plays out like a watered down commercial, something you would hear in Urban Outfitters while shopping for a “vintage” shirt.
At 10 songs she doesn’t necessarily commit to any one style, so maybe there’s hope yet for honing in on something her own. Then again maybe Charlie Brown will finally kick that goddamn football.