Cara, a new single from Bella Larsen, is a grieving exhale — a lamentation over a loved one that is articulate, powerful and serene.
The song is a lyrical character sketch steeped in introspection that spares no detail of someone who is still so alive in Larsen’s thoughts. The track opens instrumentally with plucked strings pulling droning chords together like a knit sweater. It begins lyrically with reminiscent description: “You used to laugh with your shoulders,” painting someone full of life early on. As the track progresses, Larsen begins her lament, questioning what she could have done differently, if anything.
Larsen wrote Cara in November and recorded the track over the December break, which she spent back home in Toronto. It is not a precursor to an album; it is not for those who enjoy her music; it isn’t even for Larsen. This song is personal: it is written for, and about, Cara; who ended her own life in November of 2017.
“Cara was my first love,” says Larsen. “It was one of those relationships in grade nine that is just so silly. And thinking back on it, I had no idea what I was doing… She saw more beauty and love in the world than anyone I had met before.”
The relationship ended when Larsen was 16. They made a point of staying in each other’s lives, especially through their mutual love of music.
“The first conversation we had together was about music, and the last conversation we had together was about music,” says Larsen. “Most of my songs have been about her. I wouldn’t be who I am without Cara.”
Cara’s death had Larsen searching through the past.
“The first week it happened I felt that I had gone through the grieving process completely. I find myself looking through boxes, pictures, and videos just trying to find parts of her to hold onto, because just the thought of her fading is terrifying.”
The track is an immortalization — a message sent out to Cara, which was appropriately, and deliberately, released on her birthday: March 5.