Camila Cabello's debut album explores all aspects of love while proudly flying the flag for Cuba
Subir princesa cubana!
While it might not have been glaringly obvious from the beginning that Camila Cabello was a star in waiting, her work ethic and fortitude were vital in her artistic growth.
Patience is a virtue that not everyone has. But Camila stayed disciplined and bided her time waiting for the right moment to flee the Fifth Harmony coup and venture out on her own journey of self-discovery in the public domain.
The first time I ever heard of Camila Cabello - outside of Fifth Harmony, of course - was when she featured on Machine Gun Kelly’s 2016 single “Bad Things”.
Her voice proved the perfect vehicle to help not only take MGK over the top in terms of popularity, it also played a vital role in catapulting the song to Top 5 on Billboard and Top 20 on the UK Official Singles Chart. It was like a coming-out party for the Cuban American singer/songwriter but there was something unique about this party.
Delivering what could be described as a weightless tone with a fiery undercoat, Camila’s singing voice is now unmistakable. It’s easily recognised whatever it’s featured on. Pair it with some cookie-cutter pop sonics that follow whatever the current trend is and you’re more than likely going to have a hit. However, she’s capable of much more than that.
Liberating her debut album, simply titled Camila, it’s a vibrant compilation of songs that explore love, life and womanhood. Embracing her Cuban roots throughout, while everyone else is hell bent on recycling every African-inspired instrumental known to man, Camila chooses to fly the flag for her home country, becoming a trendsetter in the process.
Whether it’s her breakout single, “Havana” featuring Young Thug, or the infectious “She Wants Control”, which hears Camila cop to once being a mega control freak, the soundscapes dotted around the album paint a colourful picture of Cuba and its intoxicating culture.
Camila loves love. That’s no secret. And not just in a romantic manner either. While yes, the majority of the album is about the love between a woman and a man, on “Real Friends” she expresses a desire to want to love friends, but she’s struggling to find some sincere and loyal ones.
She’s in love with cities (“Havana”) and she’s in love with the idea of getting to know someone behind closed doors, when all the flashing lights aren’t flickering anymore. Probably the strongest moment on Camila, “In the Dark” delves into public personas and the masks some force themselves to wear in order to please their public when in actual fact they’re a completely different person when “in the dark”.
Bearing her emotions on tracks such as “Consequences” - the piano on this is as eerily intimate as the lyrical content - and “Something’s Gotta Give”, the unbridled honesty in Camila’s words, no matter how turbulent, is spirited and inspires an openness many are scared to present.
The production duties on Camila are spread thicker than nutty peanut butter that’s been in the fridge for a month. With various styles and soundscapes that are anchored by the Cuban theme, having Frank Dukes as an Executive Producer, as well as contributions from Louis Bell, Skrillex, Pharrell Williams, T-Minus and The Futuristics, you know you’re in for riveting quality regardless of quantity.
There are moments on Camila where the production becomes a little overbearing and certain songs feel cheesy at best, like the jarringly repetitive “Inside Out”, which feels like an attempt at copying early Rihanna. But all in all it’s an inoffensive pop album that may not be groundbreaking but it introduces Camila Cabello and her personality to the world without much being lost in translation.
Camila Cabello's Camila is out now on Epic Records.