When Camila Cabello left the popular girl group Fifth Harmony in December of 2016, the news outlets went wild wondering why she left, and also if it was too big of a risk to go solo. One full year later, and on the week following the release of her debut, self-titled album on January 12th, she not only had the number one album in the country, but her smash hit “Havana” finally ascended to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 as well after being released all the way back in August of 2017. Not since 2004 when Beyoncé released her debut album, and had her hit “Crazy In Love” reigning atop both charts has this been achieved by a debut artist. It’s also interesting to note that Beyoncé was another woman who left a girl group at its peak, and no one has come close to her success in that specific situation until Camila came along.
Not only has Cabello’s debut album Camila debuted to commercial success, it’s also a fantastic yet shockingly simplistic pop album. She borrows from the current main-stream of radio tunes, but while absent of all but one feature, these ten tracks put Cabello’s uniquely inflected voice and personal writings center stage. After a misfire of a lead-single was released (and subsequently revoked as a lead) in July to lukewarm success, Cabello really decided to double down on where she wanted the direction of this album to go, delaying its release, but for worthwhile reason.
Ten tracks is a short length for an album, especially for someone of Camila’s status as a superstar artist who gains a lot of revenue from extended album streams. It starts off with the album’s second single “Never Be The Same,” a ballad that really showcases Cabello’s vocal range, especially her head voice, but more so her ability to emphasize words and sing with such emotion in her delivery that her feelings are easily translated to the listener– and it’s definitely a highlight on the album. The LP then continues with a surprising amount of songs that are very simply produced with acoustic guitars and grand pianos, a surprising touch for a chart-topping pop album in 2018. The greatest example of this simplicity would be on track seven, album highlight “Consequences.” This slow, gut-wrenching piano ballad is a surprisingly strong show of emotional capacity and heartbreak for someone as young as Cabello at age 20, and is a true testament to her budding abilities as a lyricist.
Other highlights include of course “Havana” but also tracks such as “She Loves Control” and “Inside Out” where Cabello’s vocals flare vehemently around an addictive Latin rhythm (nonetheless inspired by her own Cuban heritage), where she’s not only thriving sonically but also having genuine fun. Finally, the album closes with perhaps the most addictive track on the this body of work, dance floor anthem “Into it” which, although it could pass as an Ariana Grande single, is so exciting and remnant of summertime, young love, and endless nights of dancing that one can’t help but play it on repeat.
If the tracks on Camila make any type of a statement as a whole body of work, its that Camila Cabello isn’t scared to be her own woman and take on the music industry solo. After she’s now surpassed her Alma mater Fifth Harmony in both sales and chart positions in the past year, one would find it quite hard to justify why leaving wasn’t the best decision she ever could have made–and she’s only just getting started.