Tune in: CAMILA
January 23, 2018
It’s a bold move to walk away from a successful group with an established fanbase, 56 music awards and over 456,000 albums sold in the United States. When Camila Cabello traded all this in pursuit of further creative expression and individuality that being in Fifth Harmony didn’t allow her, my expectations for her first solo album immediately rose.
With her self-titled debut album, Cabello creates a distinctly new sound and proves that stepping away from Fifth Harmony may have been the best decision of her career.
As a whole, the album is an impressive introduction to the new solo artist. Interestingly enough, through her mellow tracks that deliver personal lyrics predominantly on love, both romantic and platonic, Cabello rebrands herself. She leaves behind the diva persona she once embodied, arguably at a lower degree than the other members, for something much sweeter.
With each lyric about how “Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta break but all I do is give, and all you do is take” or “No, I’m no stranger to surprise this paper town has let me down too many times,” Cabello paints a much more vulnerable image of herself.
Cabello pre-released “Havana,” “Real Friends” and “Never Be the Same” as singles. Peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Havana,” and its inviting melody mixed with clear Cuban influences, was evidently well received. However, the rest of the album deviates from the style set in this single.
I was surprised to find a lack of dance worthy tracks, but I wasn’t disappointed. “Never Be the Same” also offered something completely different from the rest of her songs. It’s a powerful way to open the album and is just intoxicating as the subject matter—falling in love.
One side of her album is characterized by effortless vocals and bright, simple instrumentals that ultimately accumulate to an easy listening experience. “Real Friends” and “All These Years” are perhaps the best examples of this. On the other end of the spectrum are Cabello’s emotional ballads, which she delivers beautifully with her clear, delicate voice.
It’s obvious that Cabello values the expression of identity in her art. She effectively intertwines island influences from her Cuban background to create some of the best tracks on the album.
For example, with the steel drums in the bouncy “Inside Out,” Cabello transport listeners to the sunny “south, south Miami” and demonstrates a contagious playfulness.
Even among a group of talented singers, Cabello stood out with the most interesting voice. Her expertly executed riffs and high notes only add to her unique sound. Even then, this album makes it evident that her vocal ability was not fully appreciated.
The supporting instrumentals throughout the album are simpler, taking a backseat to her vocal talent, which she shows off through demonstrating her wide range and vibrato. The harmonies also present an airy, almost ethereal quality to many of the tracks in the album.
Naturally, the album contains a few tracks that are rather forgettable; in this case most of them are toward the end. Even with these few discrepancies, the album strongly declares the type of artist that Cabello is setting herself up to become. Cabello has re-introduced herself well.