When singer Camila Cabello announced her departure from the popular girl group sensation Fifth Harmony, fans were questioning what she would do with her career. Could she hold up on her own? Would her popularity remain as strong as before? She made promising solo music, such as a placement on Machine Gun Kelly’s “Bad Things” and a few singles she released on her own, but they weren’t enough to confirm her strong foundation as a solo artist.
At best, they were glimmers of a possibility, and at worst, they were not commercially successful and did not “feel or sound like [Cabello],” according to her manager Roger Gold. However, after one Billboard record-tying single and a string of live performances, the former Fifth Harmony member has finally released her self-titled debut solo album Camila, marking her first step toward an exciting solo career.
Cabello exhibits her raw vocals on the album’s first song, “Never Be the Same,” which reverberates in the listener’s ears along with its pulse-pounding drum beats. Cabello supposedly spent only an hour writing the song, but it vividly captures the “intoxicating and reckless” feeling of falling in love and being forever affected by it.
Cabello’s single “Havana,” which has already been certified double platinum in the United States, has been played on loop in radio stations worldwide. With Cabello’s sharp vocals and a rhythmic salsa melody, the Pharrell Williams-produced song seduces listeners to fall under its infectious spell and takes them to Cabello’s hometown of Havana, Cuba. This song, along with its music video, was the first indicator that Cabello was “Miss Movin’ On” and made the right decision to leave Fifth Harmony.
Two other notable songs on the album are “Consequences” and “Real Friends.” The first song uses delicate piano keys to create a quiet, yet moving atmosphere, as Cabello reflects on a relationship that left her in pain. She discusses undergoing weight loss as she dealt with problems in the relationship and life — “loving you had consequences.” She goes from thinking that loving her unnamed man was “young and wild and free” to accepting that their love was “dumb, dark and cheap.”
In “Real Friends,” a graceful acoustic guitar accompanies Cabello’s singing as she looks for friends who won’t deceive her. With both songs sharing similar broad ideas but touching on different situations and people, the singer shows her ability to tackle multiple forms of loss and gracefully express her feelings toward them.
The rest of Camila is filled with average songs that are propelled by Cabello’s vocals and unique instrumentals. As impressive as these attributes are, they’re not enough to make the songs worth listening to on repeat.
Some songs had potential but the presence of both impressive and irritating qualities prevented the songs from becoming truly great. In “She Loves Control,” Cabello delivers a fierce chorus that evens out the loud cacophony of the instrumentals. However, therein lies the problem. The drumbeat could be considered way too loud and annoying for some listeners, and it may deter them from listening to the track again.
This is why Cabello’s debut solo album is just a first step towards a promising solo career as opposed to a standalone success, as the majority of the album does not retain the impressive quality of the earlier tracks like “Never Be the Same” or “Havana.”
However, the album demonstrates how much she has matured as a person and singer since her departure from Fifth Harmony. Her decision to not include her first few singles reveals her commitment to a cohesive project, as the tracklist is consistent with the album’s themes.
Though she had originally planned to name her first studio album The Hurting, The Healing, The Loving, she later changed the album’s name to to Camila. In an interview with Genius, Cabello explained that she didn’t want the album to refer to hurtful experiences with others. Instead, she wanted the album to be about her, showing that she was willing to let go of a moment that left her in tears, and move on.
In hindsight, it’s commendable that Cabello released this album, as she clearly shows some personal growth from the loss she experienced during the past year. The fact that the album debuted at number 1 in over 100 countries certainly reflected the immense anticipation for the project, but the quality was not entirely reflective of this hype. This shouldn’t be seen as a travesty, however; she has shown significant improvement since the obnoxious single “Crying in the Club,” and her future work could continue to trend upward.
At the very least, this album showed that Cabello can stand on her own, independent of Fifth Harmony, as she begins a new chapter in not only her musical career, but also in her life.
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