Camila Cabello’s debut surprises with heart, soul

Chris DiLullo, Managing Editor

After departing from the musical group Fifth Harmony, musical artist Camila Cabello released her debut solo album, Camila, on January 12. An 11-track collection, the work boasts the song “Havana” featuring rap artist Young Thug, which reached the top spot on Billboard’s Top 100.

Before listening to the album, I didn’t have high expectations for Camila. “Havana” had been an entertaining piece of music that became a radio staple, but it wasn’t really a strong song. Young Thug’s verse was weak lyrically, and although Pharrell Williams’ presence and the song’s Cuban flavor made it a fun listen, the lack of passion and meaning within its lyrics made it ultimately empty.

However, Cabello has superseded my expectations with a solid album that, despite the occasional misfire, contains a great deal of meaning behind nearly every song, leading to a strong work of art that boasts mature songwriting ability on the artist’s behalf. Cabello succeeds most when she tackles significant subject matter, situations and concepts that carry a great deal of meaning behind them.

“Real Friends”, the seventh song on Camila, is an excellent example of this. Behind strong chords, the song’s touching lyrics reveal an important part of Cabello’s personality through an exorcism of emotions and thoughts. It’s a song that’s not complex or upbeat enough to transform it into the hit that “Havana” was, but it’s written with more passion and care, an important work that gives the album an identity.

Thematically, Camila succeeds most when it reveals Cabello’s innermost thoughts and sentiments as “Real Friends” does. Songs such as “Consequences” and “All These Years” are representative of this, focusing on the pain and complications that stem from human relationships. They demonstrate Cabello’s humanity, making her more relatable and more real despite the fame that’s put her on a pedestal.

“In the Dark” does this to the highest level, painting an image that’s clear, personal, and simply human. Combining pop music tropes with soulful, efficient songwriting, the song is a representation of the Top 40 music Cabello can make, yet how, as an artist, she can still create with meaning, relatability, and soul.

“Something’s Gotta Give” is also one of the strongest songs on the album, displaying Cabello’s talent as a musician in a unique way. One of the most effective techniques behind singing is putting emotion and passion within their voice, changing the tone and pitch of the words to create meaning and stir emotion within the listener.

While the songwriting is effective as it is throughout the album, it’s Cabello’s ability to convey meaning through the tone of her voice that distinguishes the song from the others. However, while Camila is definitely a strong debut album, Cabello still has some room to grow and develop as an artist. Still working towards defining her identity as an artist, the album doesn’t fully commit to one vision.

Although this isn’t necessarily bad, Cabello’s strongest works come when she creates heartfelt pieces, not pop-based, upbeat works such as “Inside Out” or “Into It,” which feel devoid of meaning and aren’t written nearly to the levels of success as the other songs. If Cabello decides to embrace the more stirring and expressive aspects of her songwriting, her future albums could become truly special works of art.

Camila marks Camila Cabello’s debut as a solo artist, and while the artist occasionally missteps, her moving, passionate lyrics drive the album to ultimate success, impressing me and proving that the artist doesn’t need a supporting cast around her to succeed.