THE GRADE B
BOTTOM LINE The Canadian teen makes a promising, if uneven, debut.
Alessia Cara quickly went from Ontario teen putting up YouTube videos to major-label priority on the strength of her stunning debut single “Here.”
A cool anthem for wallflowers everywhere, “Here” is the perfect mix of jazzy touches, hip-hop swagger and enough star power to launch a dozen careers. Of course, the problem with a debut single that good is that you have to follow it up, and “Know-It-All” (Def Jam) doesn’t have anything that can quite match it.
Part of what makes “Here” so powerful is that it sounds like a teenager writing for other teenagers. And too often on “Know-It-All,” Cara sounds pushed into songs that are way too old for her, like the messy “Overdose” or the overdramatic ballad “River of Tears.”
However, there is plenty of promise. “Wild Things” builds on a tribal beat to create an anthem for songwriters and outsiders. “Four Pink Walls” follows in the footsteps of “Here,” but takes a turn into neo-soul and broader lyrical terms.
The simple ballad “Stars” comes closest to capturing the real ness that Cara so effortlessly nailed in “Here,” the surest evidence that she isn’t just lucky, but good, too.