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July 22, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Alessia Cara reflects on personal growth in new album

The Pains of Growing

Alessia Cara

In her latest album, “The Pains of Growing,” Alessia Cara shares her thoughts on the personal burdens that arise with her newfound independence.

Cara opens the album with the title track, “Growing Pains,” a catchy song about the hardships of becoming an adult. The intro features a sample of two parents’ voices saying, “You’re on your own kid. You are.” Although Cara expresses a meaningful message about personal struggles, the chorus fails to highlight her vocal ability. She spends most of it just repeating the word “hey.” “Growing Pains” is followed by “Not Today,” another song that focuses on overcoming pain by looking forward to a brighter future.

“I Don’t Want To” is a calming track that highlights Cara’s sweet voice, while the acoustic guitar in the background gives the song a soothing vibe. Cara sings about a past unhealthy relationship that she had to erase. It’s a song that would complete any “Broken Heart” Spotify playlist.

Cara’s rapper-type of vibe is highlighted through the song “7 Days.” This track resembles one of her past hits, “Here,” with regards to its hip-hop tempo. Cara makes God the focus of this song by addressing him as “Mr. Man” and “Mr. Maker.” Cara sings about the world’s flaws and asks God if he is watching what’s going on in the world he created. Cara exclaims, “Let’s tell little girls that pretty girls are better,” wondering if God is witnessing the expectations society is promoting. She adds, “At least the bubble that we’ve created has made for damn good TV.” The catchy melodies demand attention. The album’s theme arises again during the verse in which Cara sings, “But we’re growing, have some hope in us.”

A track that sounds soothing and comforting, “Wherever I Live” opens with a gentle guitar solo. During this track, Cara talks about her past, detailing living alone in a three-star hotel. Cara’s lyrics express living independently with lines like, “Just me, myself and nothing/ But I taught me how to love it.”

“A Little More” has Cara singing in a low tone. It’s a short and simple song that doesn’t add much to the album, much like her next song “Comfortable.” Despite displaying a more soulful sound, “Comfortable” sounds too repetitive.

Cara’s serene vocals blend with the instrumentals found in her next song, “Out of Love.” The intro of “Out of Love” features a beautiful piano composition in the background. The melodies flow smoothly with the lyrics. The line, “I can’t float in an ocean,” features an instrumental background that sounds like water droplets. It’s a consoling song to hear during a rainy day.

“Girl Next Door,” is a self-love anthem  in which Cara sings about feeling proud of her accomplishments, claiming, “I’m not Bowie, Prince or Queen but at least I do what I dream.” Cara then goes on with “Easier Said, encouraging listeners to ignore negative advice from people. Cara delivers important messages regarding the conflicting emotions that come with transitioning from one’s teenage years to adulthood. Although the album contains some weak songs, Cara’s steady vocals shine. She augments her lyrics by writing from the heart, sharing personal experiences with her audience.

Matilde Bechet can be reached at mcatarinobechet@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @MatildeBechet