An Album a Day: Know-It-All (deluxe)

Jan. 29 – Know-It-All (deluxe edition) by Alessia Cara

Genre: A R&B-influenced pop
Year: 2015
Runtime: 47:38 (the standard edition is 35:34)
Total tracks: 13, including two bonus songs not on the standard edition, and a bonus version of “Here” which IS on the standard version.

Songs you might know:
– “Seventeen”
– “Here”
– “Wild Things”
– “Scars to Your Beautiful”

My prior relationship with this album: I remember really discovering Alessia Cara in 2016 and falling in love with this album. Cara was everything I wanted a pop star to be: talented as both a vocalist and a songwriter, plus she just seems like a chill person who would be a good role model for younger listeners. I even went to see her live and can vouch for her as a live performer as well.

My impressions this time around: This is one of those albums where I definitely have my favorites (“Wild Things,” and “Seventeen” are probably my top two) but even my not-favorites are still better that most other songs I’ve listened to as part of the project. Cara’s lyricism here still wows me, even after I’ve heard the album numerous time. The way she effortlessly flows from one line into another, weaving an emotional story together without it ever feeling like she’s forcing a rhyme is unmatched in pop music.

Possibly her most popular song, “Here,” is about being stuck at a party you don’t want to be at, and it makes for a beautiful subversion of the party tracks that are all too common within pop. Many of the other tracks follow suit, articulating feelings we’ve all had that the rest of the industry hasn’t bothered to sing about. It’s a great Not-Like-Other-Pop-Stars album that’s still pop enough to appeal to most mainstream pop fans.

Musically, Cara perfectly synthesizes pop, R&B, and hip hop into an album that doesn’t exactly fall into any of those buckets 100%. She even has more acoustic songs like “Stars” and “Stone” (ft. Sebastien Kole). While sometimes albums with such variety create the impression that the artist doesn’t really know who they are yet, Know-It-All is exactly the opposite. That variety paired with Alessia’s rebellious lyrics create the impression that Cara refuses to let herself be defined by a single genre. She’s going to make the music she wants to make, and her varied music tastes naturally lead to a varied album.

I also want to add that this is definitely an album where it’s worth the extra twelve minutes to listen to the deluxe version. “River of Tears” alone might make it worth it. It’s the kind of stripped down ballad that really showcases Cara’s unique vocal tone and despite being a sad breakup song, it still feels fresh. “My Song” is another beautiful be-true-to-yourself anthem, that’s certainly special enough to justify investing time/money in the deluxe version.

Who would enjoy it? This is definitely an album that I think is worth a listen regardless of whether or not it falls within your typical listening habits. I could see it being a great bridge into R&B for pop fans, or vice versa.

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