Camila Cabello’s debut album ‘Camila‘ showcases her vulnerability, her liberation, and her Latin heritage through soaring, raw vocals and a youthful, mature demeanor.
Camila Cabello is ringing in the New Year strong with the release of her debut self-titled album, Camila (1/12/2018 via Epic Records). It comes after a tumultuous exit from Fifth Harmony and a subsequent string of guest vocal features with Shawn Mendes, Pitbull, and Machine Gun Kelly. The Cuban-Mexican, Cuba born songstress from Miami now 20-years-old, rose to fame through the talent show The X Factor, as the shining member of girl group Fifth Harmony.
In Camila, Cabello shares herself with the world. Her vulnerability, her liberation, and her Latin heritage are all showcased through her soaring falsetto and a youthful, yet mature demeanor. In addition, Cabello’s most popular track to date, the bouncy “Havana,” continues to peak at number 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart while racking up over 550 million Spotify streams to date!
Loving you, I thought
I couldn’t get no higher
Your November rain could set night on fire
But we could only burn so long
Counterfeit emotions only run skin deep
Know you’re lying
when you’re lying next to me
– “Something’s Gotta Give,” Camila Cabello
Join Atwood Magazine and dive deeper into Camila in our track-by-track review of Camila Cabello’s impressive debut!
Listen: ‘Camila’ – Camila Cabello
Never Be the Same
Cabello’s tonality is flawless in album opener “Never Be The Same.” Her raspy-soul vocals float over the burning melody. The way she alternates from her higher to lower register and vice versa is soothing. It’s a dark ear-pleasing juxtaposition hearing her croon about succumbing to love in a confident manner. With lyrics “Now I’m seeing red, not thinking straight. Blurring all the lines, you intoxicate me,” Cabello compares love to drugs as Kesha once did, but Cabello’s spin is much more emotionally expressive in that both love and drugs can cause anger, pain, and addiction.
All These Years
Cabello shares a personal vignette of encountering an ex that she still holds feelings for. Her velvety vocals and humming adlibs guide this track over a minimalistic acoustic guitar. She sings “I never prepared for a moment like that. Yeah, suddenly, it all came back, it all came back.” Lyrically, “All These Years” sounds like it came straight out of Cabello’s diary.
She Loves Control
Cabello admits she is a control freak and “She Loves Control” stems from a bossy girl who likes to be in control –like herself probably basking in creative control of her music. It’s a breezy and fluffy dance track that infuses Latin inspired instrumentals. She sings “Bold, you know she lives for the thrill.” Perhaps this is Cabello’s way of celebrating having freedom? Her vocals are sanguinely sultry like she’s challenging someone to try to control her.
Proud of her Cuban heritage, Cabello pays homage to Cuba in this infectious radio dominated track. It’s not her debut single but it’s her catchy signature track to date and was what fans wanted to hear on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2018 —she performed “Havana” live outdoors in 10 degree weather! The Latin instruments add sass and spiciness to the now famously flirtatious “Ooh Na Na.” Cabello is again sultry but mysteriously bold in her vocals. She croons her “Oohs” over a dance-ready thumping drum melody. “Havana” is a bonafide smash hit with a Young Thug rap assist and Pharrell co-writing credit.
“Inside Out” is a fun love-themed song that evokes the feeling of having butterflies in your stomach. This reggae infused track continues the trend of Cabello showcasing her heritage as she effortlessly switches between Spanish and English during the bridge. With playful lyrics, “Show me what your inside ’bout,” it demonstrates she’s writing from a place of youth and adventure.
Cabello slows down the tempo in “Consequences” over an airy piano. The stripped back production complements her personal cry. She opens up about loving someone that was detrimental to her well-being. Her vocals are delicate and she sounds nearly broken in this ballad filled with tears and regrets. With sharp poignant lyrics, “Hesitation, awkward conversation, running on low expectation, every siren that I was ignoring. I’m paying for it,” Cabello is taking jabs at herself for falling into this situation that is relatable to many in difficult relationships. “Consequences” is the real hidden gem of the album. It sounds like an organic-sad energy casts an aura around “Consequences.”
People thrive on social connection with others. We all need friends. Cabello was feeling the blues now residing in LA because she was only interacting with people for business-related reasons and not personally. “Real Friends” retains a melancholy vibe as Cabello sings about loneliness. The constant guitar strumming and the echoing synth work in tandem with each other as Cabello’s voice dazzles through the loneliness. “Been feelin’ so alone in every crowded room. Can’t help but feel like something’s wrong.” These lyrics speak truth about being placed in uncomfortable situations.
Something’s Gotta Give
Music can help people get through hard break ups — this is one of those empowering songs. You can hear the sorrow in Cabello’s voice as she struggles to leave a rocky relationship. The ominously dejected piano fills the background as Cabello unleashes her feelings. As the song progresses, her voice adopts more brass and confidence. “I should know by now, you should know by now. I think I’m breaking right now.” These lyrics are deeply personal because she admits she might be at her breaking point.
In the Dark
This song comes from a place of temptation and curiosity. She serenades a guy asking him to open up to her. She sings “You can strip down without showing skin.” These lyrics continue to showcase Cabello’s skilled and mature song wring craft filled with double entendres. This is a fluid-rhythmic track filled with drifting synths with R&B flavor. Her adlibs standout in this track as she stretches and shortens notes in a continuous flow.
The final track on the album was written alongside OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, arguably one of the best songwriters in the industry. It’s the friskiest track on the album, shrouded under the success and melodramatics of the other more poppy ballads. Like “In The Dark,” “Into It” uses a R&B singing base with an electro-hip-hop beat. She sings “The gravity can’t hold us, your hands are outer space. I can’t make sense of nothing.” She’s writing from the mind of being in love where she loses her senses around a special someone.
Cabello’s self-expression is tinkered through both powerhouse and fragile vocals in this grand solo debut. She’s beautifully raw singing from being hurt, angry, sad, curious, and happy. Camila is an emotionally wrecking roller coaster through high-quality production and lyrics. With only one feature on the whole album, it focuses on Cabello’s sole artistry. Her vocals sound natural and less manufactured compared to her time with Fifth Harmony —she is utilizing her full vocal range.
Camila is setting the standard for what modern pop music should be. Standing at 5’2, Cabello has proved that she isn’t just a singer, but an artist who is proud of her culture. Furthermore, she’s a young pop star with writing credits on her debut album’s full tracklist. Cabello’s willingness to open up to the world and handle negative attention with grace at such a young age is admirable. This is only the beginning for her as she develops her piquantly enticing sound.
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photo © Epic Records