An album worth ‘Rooting For’

Alessia Cara takes another step closer towards musical maturation

By on September 10, 2019

How does a performer who’s already won a Grammy for Best New Artist continue to find a way to be innovative and exciting? 

With the release of her latest EP, “This Summer,” Alessia Cara accomplishes just that and more. The short but defining six-song track release was flawlessly executed and leaves no room for “filler” songs.

Cara burst onto the scene in 2015 with her single “Here” and has since raised the bar with each project she’s released. Cara has a history of singing about her age and transitional phases of life, and “This Summer” is no exception.

On her debut album, “Know-It-All,” Cara was still young and naïve, wishing she could go back in time and stay 17 forever. Looking for a challenge at the age of 22, Cara decided it was time to start facing the reality of getting older on her album “Growing Pains.” “This Summer” continues the trend, as Cara tackles new issues of young adulthood and what it feels like when you get to a point in your growth where you can’t go back.

Setting the tone with the opening song “Ready,” Cara begins telling the story reflecting on her own maturation and who she has left behind in the process. As a young adult, Cara does not have time for the waiting game. The song’s vexing repetition of “are you ready for me” puts a love interest on the spot to make a decision. It’s either time for them to mature and claim their place next to her or get left in the dust because Cara effortlessly melodizes “I won’t be waiting for you to come around.”

Following up the opening number is “What’s on Your Mind?” which is essentially a last chance for her love interest to change their mind. Chanting “speak now or forever hold your tongue,” Cara puts a spin on the traditional ultimatum for wedding attendees “speak now or forever hold your peace.” Cara may be making a comparison to marriage here to show that she’s old enough for commitment whether it’s with her lover or to her new opportunistic self.

Sure, Cara is proud to be almost all grown up, but she still remains humble about it. “Like You” tackles the bumps in the road along the way and how it’s no easy task making big changes in your life. While she may have “almost forgot who I am for a minute,” by the end of the song Cara is sure everyone knows she hasn’t. “You said I’ve never ever met a girl like you, and boy you never will.” Cara hammers home the fact that she’s a woman now and defiantly shuts down being treated like a kid.

“Okay Okay” sounds exactly like a response someone would have after being told yet again that they’re missing out on “This Summer,” but it’s also the name of the EP’s catchiest song. I would even argue that it’s the best song of the sextet, especially considering the reference to Cara’s previous album. “Turn pain into a paycheck” refers to “Growing Pains” and the success and sales of the album. Cara also displays her confidence on this track talking about “faking it until (she) makes it” and being a “million trick pony” who has gained adaptability and is ready for whatever life throws at her next.

If you’ve wanted the old Alessia Cara back from a stylistic standpoint, “Rooting for You” brings her back to her R&B roots. The penultimate song on the EP references people in her life who are still struggling to mature. “Now I see you havin’ so much fun with everyone you had so much fun makin’ fun of” is just one example of Cara talking about high school level fakeness that she’s more than happy to have gotten away from by now.  

Finally, as Cara’s “summer” concludes, we find ourselves in “October” the final song on the EP. Cara once more shines through her main track singing and doing her own backing vocals just like the rest of the album. There are no features on the album, almost to prove that Cara doesn’t need help and she’s completely independent now. Cara also sings about the end of summer, “I’m gonna miss it when it’s over” and the sweet spot she finds herself in before the beginning of more constraining aspects of adulthood set in.

As each one of us needs to do, Cara is letting go of childhood for good but reminds us that she’s not worried assuring “we’re okay, we’ll live this way till it’s done.” In “This Summer,” Alessia Cara goes full “girl who can do both” proving that even as we grow up and take on all the grueling responsibilities of adult life, the summer always will serve as a warm reminder of being a carefree kid. 

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