Thursday, 22 February 2018

Album Review | Camila Cabello | Camila (2018)

image credit: epic/syco/sony music
After taking the world by storm with her record-breaking hit ‘Havana’ last September, Camila Cabello’s debut album Camila signifies her much-needed entrance into a bland, pop-infused music landscape.

Establishing oneself as a solo artist after leaving one of America’s breakthrough acts, Cabello began to make a name for herself with the releases of ‘Crying in the Club’, ‘OMG’ and an EP (along with numerous collaborations); Cabello intended these tracks to appear on her originally titled debut, The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving. After the commercial success of ‘Havana’, Cabello scrapped many of the tracks off the record to form the Latin-influenced Camila that we were blessed with at the beginning of 2018 (January 12).

Cabello took an undeniable risk, proving that Camila is a personally-introspective album that the manufactured pop world so desperately needs. Cabello could have easily carried on with the domineering, risqué image she flaunted in Fifth Harmony. Instead, Cabello decided to show her true self with confidence, propelling a body of work that beautifully explores the love for her family, fans, and her Mexican-Cuban heritage.

Despite the sounds and genre-tropes explored in ‘Crying in the Club’ and ‘OMG’, Cabello does not go for the club bangers here. ‘She Loves Control’ is the closest Cabello comes to providing the same semblance as the aforementioned singles, whilst following the groove-infused strand of Latin and R&B that ties the entirety of the record together. This, accompanied by Cabello’s newly garnered independence, flourishes not only the song but throughout the record, making an exciting moment of empowerment both for her and women across the globe.

image credit: dennis leupold

Corner-stoned by two heartfelt belters – ‘Never Be the Same’ and ‘Into It’ – Cabello takes her personal beliefs and emotions and transfers them into ten tracks without a lick of melancholy. She explores her optimism and longing in lyrics comprised of somewhat clique longings for a lover she can’t have, along with the oh so relatable wonders of finding real friends in a sea of double standards (‘Real Friends’), combined with commentary on celebrity culture and facades (the seductive ‘In the Dark’).

Even though Fifth Harmony are known for their stances on female empowerment and feminism, Cabello expands this to include self-love and her responsibility as a role model. ‘I think it has a lot to do with the fact I have a sister who’s 10,’ Cabello says in an interview with NME. ‘I definitely always keep that audience in my mind […] I wanna be a good role influence on younger kids’.

And that’s the beauty with this record; it’s not overtly sexual, and its not grounded in a Disney-esque shroud of kid friendly themes. Cabello isn’t limited to anything, but she wants to be available to all generations with the tracks she is producing. It’s a testament to her that she is self-assured enough to go from a manufactured image to her true self in the span of a year, whilst retaining such a down-to-earth personality. As she says, ‘I want people to be excited and for [the album] to feel unexpected and unpredictable […] I definitely want people to think I’m nice’.

She certainly is; and you know you’ve made a successful solo career after leaving a successful girl group when you’re referred to as the songwriter that gave us ‘Havana’, rather than an ex-member of Fifth Harmony.

Camila is out now via Epic/Syco/Sony, and Cabello will be heading to the UK this summer in Glasgow (5 June), Birmingham (6 June) and London (12 June). 

Facebook: @camilacabello
Twitter: @Camila_Cabello
Instagram: @camila_cabello
Spotify: Camila Cabello
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