NPR logo Review: Alessia Cara, 'Know It All'

Review: Alessia Cara, 'Know It All'

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Cover art for Know It All. i

Cover art for Know It All. Meredith Truax/Courtesy of the artist. hide caption

toggle caption Meredith Truax/Courtesy of the artist.
Cover art for Know It All.

Cover art for Know It All.

Meredith Truax/Courtesy of the artist.

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Alessia Cara –19-year-old singer-songwriter from Brampton, outside Toronto – is lightly famous. She's a wearable degree of known due to her anthem for introverts, this year's "Here." With it she hoisted a flag for the anti-social butterflies and issued a challenge of sorts to those who dream about embracing their true outside-the-lines selves. Her level gaze out, from a life just grazed by the commercial music machine, turns our own thoughts inward. She's caught the ear of the cool kids and the uncertain, and she doesn't let go of either affinity group throughout her full-length debut album, Know It All. Cara interweaves more songs for those holding up the wall ("I'm Yours") and those in the middle of the floor ("Seventeen," "Wild Things," "Scars to Your Beautiful") to create an effort that perfectly illustrates the state of becoming.

Cara shines brighter in those moments when she's not in the spotlight, when she lets her vocal prowess and authentic lyricism and poise take over, as she does on the stripped-down "Here (2:00 AM Version)" and "Four Pink Walls." "I assumed that there was only room for my dreams in my dreams, so I'd sleep in repeat," she scat-sings swiftly, reminiscing of life before fame. Cara's yearning for normalcy comes as no surprise — she was only recently plucked from YouTube by Def Jam Records — but what's refreshing is how Cara uses Know It All to prove that she's bound to ascend pop's hierarchy, all the while doing what we've been told is not attractive to the buying public: standing strong in herself.

Correction Nov. 5, 2015

An earlier version of this story inaccurately identified the city of Brampton, Ontario, as part of Toronto.

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Know It All [Deluxe Edition]

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Album
Know It All [Deluxe Edition]
Artist
Alessia Cara
Label
Def Jam
Released
2015

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