Alessia Cara Gets Personal for The Pains of Growing

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There’s a reason that all of the promotional artwork for Alessia Cara’s forthcoming second studio album, entitled The Pains of Growing, features the singer in an oversized grey suit. It’s meant to represent growing up too fast or trying to squeeze into a role you might not be ready to handle. „We aren’t always prepared for life when it runs towards us full speed,“ Cara wrote in an Instagram caption. „Sometimes, it feels like we’re drowning in it a little, sometimes it’s mundane and stagnant. That’s what the suit is.“

Born Alessia Caracciolo, the 22-year-old Canadian singer knows all too well what it’s like to grow up in the spotlight, having seen her star rise dramatically after releasing her first single „Here“ and appearing on two Top 10 chart-toppers with Zedd („Stay“) and Logic („1-800-273-8255.“) It was her feature on the latter that led to Cara performing at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards alongside Logic and Khalid in a tribute to Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell and Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, who both passed away from suicide that year. It was poignant moment that still sticks out in Cara’s mind, especially because the song continued to impact people long after it left the airwaves.

„[Logic] called me when I was in New York and he asked me to be on the song and the whole premise of the album was beautiful,“ she tells CR. „[It] was so powerful, so I was flattered to be considered for it. I had no idea it was going to be a single, but it helped a lot of people and I feel lucky to be part of it. There’a statistic that the calls to the hotline went up by 60 or 70 percent and that’s insane.“

The Pains of Growing, releasing on Nov. 30th, charts the artist’s journey through late adolescence and all of the heartbreak and strife that accompanies it. It’s an intimate, more personal follow-up to her first album Know-It-All, and an unflinchingly honest portrayal of feeling lonely and alienated while growing into young adulthood. The newly released music video for „Not Today,“ zeroes on the singer’s tear and mascara-stained face as she meanders listlessly throughout her house, watching TV and completing mundane tasks in order to keep herself occupied (Cara experienced a breakup while recording the album.) She sings of heartbreak and struggling to move past it: “One day the thought of him won’t hurt the same / Won’t need distractions to get through the day.“

Emotionally evocative, confessional autobiographical lyrics with substance have always been a core part of Cara’s identity as a musician. „Here“ was about feeling out-of-place and uncomfortable at a house party while „Scars to Your Beautiful“ addresses grappling with issues of body image and self-esteem, ultimately ending on a positive note by encouraging other young women to embrace themselves as they are. „I write from personal experience so every song on the album was inspired by something I was going through or something I was observing in my own life,“ she says. „Of course, I do touch on pain and there are some lighter moments and happier moments on the album, and that’s the advantage of growing up. Each song is a microscopic view on that.“

Still, the downside and pressures of being famous sometimes has the singer feeling overwhelmed and needing to take some time just for herself (on Monday, she announced in a since-deleted Instagram post that she was taking a social media break,) indicating that Cara is more comfortable expressing her emotions through song than she is through any other medium. She wrote „Growing Pains,“ the debut single off the album, as a way to introduce her fans to a new, more mature chapter in her life and to depict learning from her own mistakes. And perhaps symbolically, The Pains of Growing doesn’t feature any other artist or song-writing collaborations on purpose. It’s just Cara and Cara alone.

„Because I was going through a lot of personal stuff, it was a conscious decision to write this album by myself for that reason,“ she says. „I wanted the story to feel like it was 100 percent me, because it is. It’s too personal of an album. I want people to feel connected to other humans and feel connected to themselves. Maybe it’ll make them see something in themselves or in their relationship and to just remember that there’s nothing that we can’t grow from.“

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