Camila Cabello’s debut album shines as bright as she does

Album review of Camila by Camila Cabello

Photo courtesy of Much.

Camila Cabello is a 20-year-old Cuban-Mexican pop superstar. Her debut album, Camila, dropped on Friday (Jan. 12) to unwavering anticipation from her loyal fanbase.

The album, consisting of 11 songs, is largely about feelings of love, loss, longing and loneliness. If one listens to the album in its entirely, they will find that it is a cohesive piece of work, both sonically and lyrically, with each song flowing seamlessly into the other.

Absent from the album are previous singles “Crying in the Club,” “I Have Questions” and “OMG.” Despite the aforementioned songs being amazing in their own right, they wouldn’t quite fit into the final product, making their exclusion a wise decision on Cabello’s part.

The songs that did make the cut, however, are collectively an elegantly constructed work of art. Firstly, Cabello has first-person writing credits on all the album’s songs. This is the mark of a talented songwriter and confirms that Cabello indisputably took the lead on constructing the album’s individual sound.

The sound in question is an ode to Latin Pop with hints of Reggae and Reggaeton scattered throughout. This is apparent on songs such as “Havana,” “She Loves Control,” “Inside Out” and “Real Friends” where the use of smooth Spanish guitars, rhythmical steel pans, sultry piano riffs and Latin/Afro-Caribbean percussion instruments are very evident.

Although “Havana” is the breakout song from this album, “Real Friends” deserves a special mention. Cabello has noted that this acoustic-pop masterpiece encapsulated her true feelings while working and living in L.A. away from her family. 

“I’m just looking for some real friends, all they ever do is let me down. Every time I let somebody in, then I find out what they’re all about,” she says in the song.

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that the lyrics describe what many of us have known for years – that the search for strong, genuine friendships in a big city can sometimes be a long and arduous task.

These sentiments are also echoed in the song “In the Dark” – a track that Cabello wrote after she met an unnamed male celebrity at the Grammys. The song’s subject is asked to show their true self and not the carefully manufactured mask they frequently wear.

This is but one of Cabello’s many superpowers. Her capacity to weave the stories of others into her songwriting reveals which themes are important to her worldview. Authenticity is, without question, one of those themes and its presence is deeply felt from the album’s beginning to its end.

With regards to her other songs, “All These Years,” “Consequences” and “Something’s Gotta Give” all make significant use of Cabello’s signature breathy vocals. Each song discusses aspects of previously failed relationships. The vulnerability displayed in these songs is something Cabello has become accustomed to incorporating into her music and has mastered well.

These songs also strike a balance with the lighter and more sensual songs on the album. Songs like “Inside Out” and “Into It” show Cabello’s fun and flirtatious side. A side that signals a subtle but distinctive confidence she has undeniably gained in recent months.

“Never Be the Same,” the album’s next single, compares falling in love to the intoxicating and addictive effects of drug use. Although the concept has been used multiple times by artists everywhere, its Cabello’s delivery that makes this song special. Her heightened pitch in the song’s pre-chorus and chorus adds to the emotive effect it has on its listener.

In short, the album largely represents who Cabello is now as a solo artist as opposed to who she was in her former girl group Fifth Harmony. If this album has accomplished anything since its release, it has confirmed that Cabello’s talent knows no bounds.

With her extraordinary songwriting capabilities, her creative instincts and her clear ability to succeed on her own, Cabello has proven that she is indeed a force to be reckoned with.