Review: Alessia Cara’s The Pains Of Growing is a sophisticated pop coming of age

The Brampton singer’s sophomore release is wholly dedicated – in a wonderfully genuine way – to the challenging, gratifying and unpredictable world of adulting


Rating: NNNN


Between Alessia Cara standing slightly baffled in an oversized suit, the opening line, “you’re on your own kid,” or its title, the Brampton singer’s sophomore release is wholly dedicated – in a wonderfully genuine way – to the challenging, gratifying and unpredictable world of adulting.

Ever since Cara’s 2015 debut, she’s crafted eloquent songs from the erratic emotions and thoughts found in pages of adolescent journals. But she’s no longer that know-it-all teen. Now 22, the youthful exuberance heard on Seventeen and Wild Things has been replaced with 7 Days (“If there’s a God / do you think he’s looking down / curled up on his couch right now?”) and All We Know (“Heroes fall like dominoes”), tracks tempered by those inevitable game-changers: age and experience.

But besides creating an array of new questions, adulthood has also brought greater independence and self-love. She addresses everything from loneliness by choice (Trust My Lonely) or by circumstance (Wherever I Live, which includes a cynical nod to Smelly Cat and those spoiled 90s Friends who once represented coming of age in your twenties), to what happens to romantic love when the honeymoon ends (Comfortable). The sweeping tear-jerker Out Of Love is Adele-level heartbreak.

It’s Cara’s smart, focused songwriting, sophisticated lyrics and soulful, warm production that makes it a successful second effort. Her voice, while gorgeous, is not big in range – its beauty lies in its candidness and presence. She sings like she’s personally sharing intimate tales with each listener.

Top track: I Don’t Want To

@nowtoronto | @ChakaVGrier

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