The Gulf Today - Time Out - - CONTENTS -

One day Alessia Cara got a re­quest from a friend: Write a song about my breakup. “He was like, ‘Lis­ten, I’m not a song­writer, I’m not good at writ­ing. Could you maybe one day ... write a song about some­body fall­ing out of love with you?’”

The con­cept had been in the back of Cara’s mind, and when she was in a stu­dio with­out a topic to write about it, she took a stab at her friend’s wish.

Ten min­utes later, she birthed “Out of Love,” an airy, slow and per­son­ally deep song. She called the mak­ing of it “one of those weird cos­mic things that just hap­pened.”

“I played it for my friend and he got very emo­tional and he was like, ‘Thank you!’ And he ac­tu­ally got back to­gether with the girl after that song. It’s a magic song.”

Cara said it was the first song she’s writ­ten from some­one else’s per­spec­tive. But she said it was easy to pull from her own ex­pe­ri­ences — and pain — to re­late to the song.

You’ll be able to hear about her pain — or “pains” — on her new al­bum, from her own breakup to learn­ing how to be happy alone to — sim­ply put — grow­ing up.

“I was 18 when I first started in the in­dus­try — it’s hard enough to fig­ure your­self out at that age, but then to fig­ure your­self out in front of many peo­ple with so many eyes on you and ears on you is very chal­leng­ing,” the 22-year-old said. “That was caus­ing a lot of strange dis­so­nance within my­self. It was mak­ing me just re­ally con­fused.”

Cara burst on the mu­sic scene in 2015 with the Top 5 hit, “Here.” She went on to launch more Top 10 suc­cesses with “Scars to Your Beau­ti­ful,” “Stay” with Zedd and “1-800-273-8255” along­side Logic and Khalid. And her de­but al­bum, “Know-It-All,” achieved plat­inum sta­tus.

With all the suc­cess comes crit­i­cism, and Cara got her fair share of it. When she won the best new artist Grammy ear­lier this year, some felt she didn’t de­serve to win over acts like SZA and Khalid. And even this week, the singer took a short break from so­cial me­dia after she posted the nasty com­ments she has re­ceived from peo­ple on­line, in­clud­ing words like “ugly,” ‘’fat” and oth­ers we won’t print here.

But she rose above the hate and re­turned to so­cial me­dia to cel­e­brate the re­lease of “The Pains of Grow­ing,” out on Dec. 7. The al­bum is all about com­ing out on top after deal­ing with hard times.

“The sec­ond I wrote ‘Grow­ing Pains,’” she said of the al­bum’s open­ing track, “I knew what the premise of the en­tire al­bum was go­ing to be. I think that’s be­cause, hon­estly, I was go­ing through a lot of dif­fer­ent feel­ings and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing many dif­fer­ent feel­ings, a lot of which had to do with some sort of pain. It sounds very dark but it’s the truth.”

“(It) was my way of in­d­ing sil­ver lin­ing ... and re­mind­ing my­self that ev­ery type of pain is some­thing that we can grow from,” she said.

The Cana­dian artist started writ­ing most of the al­bum be­fore she won the Grammy, so she said that neg­a­tiv­ity didn’t af­fect her mu­sic.

“I was like, ‘Thank God, be­cause I don’t know how I would have re­acted oth­er­wise.’ At the same time, I think the back­lash about the Grammy just made me want to prove peo­ple wrong a bit more,” she said. “I want to prove to peo­ple and to my­self that I de­serve to be here.”

War­ren “Oak” Felder, who pro­duced both of Cara’s al­bums, said he was deeply im­pressed by the way she tack­led her fol­low-up al­bum.

“I think the irst al­bum was such a process of, ‘Well, these peo­ple want me to do this’ and ‘the la­bel wants me to do that’ and ‘this writer wants me to do this’ and ‘this is the sound that they want me to do,’ and here’s me try­ing to in­cor­po­rate my­self into all of this,” he said. “And this al­bum was just purely her. Like, ‘This is what I wanted it to sound like. This is what I want to talk about it.’ She lit­er­ally wrote ev­ery song on the al­bum 100 per cent on her own.

“Go­ing from one form to the other, it’s like watch­ing some­one go Su­per Saiyan,” he added.

Cara’s new al­bum ex­pands her sound even more than her de­but. You can’t put her mu­sic in a box if you tried: She goes from pos­i­tive pop to acous­tic singer-song­writer to R&B, some­times a cou­ple of those sounds in a sin­gle song.

She takes on an old-school, doowop style on “Com­fort­able;” she ques­tions where we are in the world on “7 Days;” and she makes a num­ber of pop cul­ture ref­er­ences on the al­bum, name­drop­ping the iconic se­ries “Friends” on “Wher­ever I Live,” and on “Nin­tendo Game,” she ref­er­ences Zelda and sings: “And so we treat love like it’s a Nin­tendo game, but no­body wins.”

“I think peo­ple have la­belled me as this con­scious pop star who’s al­ways preach­ing about some­thing, which I think can be true ... but I don’t think that’s all I make. I’m not al­ways preach­ing to the choir,” she said. “I’m a ver­sa­tile per­son.”

Re­gard­less of how she’s been la­belled, her mu­sic has helped her build a strong fan base and she’s be­come a strong role model for young boys and girls, who of­ten thank Cara for her hon­est lyrics and pos­i­tiv­ity.

“It’s pretty baf­fling, in the best way, to know that your mu­sic has done that for some­body so per­son­ally and so di­rectly,” she said.

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