‘Camila’ (released January 12, 2018) by Camila Cabello
After a rocky 2016 in which Camila Cabello departed from the X-Factor produced group Fifth Harmony, it seemed as though she began 2017 in search of clarity. In May, Cabello released “Crying in the Club” a mid-tempo dance pop single that ended up sounding more like a Sia song than anything else. “Crying in the Club”, along with another track, “I Have Questions”, were the first taste from the album which was originally titled “The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving”. It supposed to depict the singer’s journey from dark to light. These songs and the album concept were ultimately scrapped, with Cabello opting instead for “Havana”, her breakout hit of 2017.
“Havana” is unmistakably Camila, borrowing from her own Cuban roots through its infectious piano rhythm and sultry horn melodies. The song immediately captured the attention of audiences, landing Cabello her first U.S. #1 hit. With this came the release of Cabello’s debut album, the eponymously titled “Camila”.
“Camila” builds on the success of “Havana”, implementing simple rhythmic chords paired with Latin and island influences evident in “She Loves Control” and “Inside Out”. Other tracks see Cabello gravitating towards acoustic guitar (“All These Years”, “Real Friends”) and minimalistic dance-pop beats (“Never Be the Same”, “Into It”) which catapulted hits by Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran to #1. While “Camila” borrows heavily from current pop trends, its delivery feels ultimately authentic through the assurance and conviction of both Cabello’s voice and lyrics. Contributing as co-writer to all 10 tracks, Cabello sounds honest and self-assured, revealing personal struggles on songs like “Consequences”. On “Real Friends”, a slow acoustic guitar jam reminiscent of Bieber’s “Love Yourself”, Cabello describes failed friendships as she longs for a faithful partner.
Perhaps “Camila”’s only failure is its unnecessary and distracting use of autotune which detracts from Cabello’s more raw vocals. Nevertheless, the album’s versatility saves the record from feeling thin. Although it is clear Cabello still has some growing to do, her unmistakable presence is evident from the start. The ease and comfort at which she expresses herself proves that indeed Cabello does know “Camila” best.