Alessia Cara

Four Pink Walls

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The teenage wallflower anthem "Here," Alessia Cara's debut for Def Jam, was released in May 2015 and sounded nothing like the hits -- such as the Weeknd's "Earned It," Omarion's "Post to Be," and Rihanna's "B**** Better Have My Money" -- that were at or around the top of Billboard's R&B chart. Even with instant recognition of the Isaac Hayes sample that drives it, "Here" sounded distinct, not only because its tracing of social anxieties was so palpable, but also because Cara sounded remarkably poised for her age. None of the other four songs on Four Pink Walls, the Canadian singer and songwriter's debut EP, eclipses that Top Ten R&B single, but each one of them is sturdy, fusing and switching between smart pop and R&B constructions as Cara sings about growing up and falling in love. The EP fittingly closes with the title track, a melodious and triumphant piece of hip-hop soul where Cara reflects on her early success, knowing she had the potential while in a state of dazed disbelief nonetheless. Cara co-wrote everything. Andrew "Pop" Wansel and Warren "Oak" Felder are among the collaborators in her corner. The duo's work here complements what they've done beside Chrisette Michele, Alicia Keys, Tamia, and especially Elle Varner.

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