“Crying in the Club,” the first solo song from Camila Cabella was the world’s first teaser in what was to come from the 20 year old singer – or was it? It’s a mid-tempo sultry dance track that sampled part of Christina Aguilera’s “Genie In A Bottle” for the chorus. Going from a group to solo act encompasses a whole new set of challenges. The heat of the spotlight is just on you alone and the world has to get acquainted with that person – sans a career that feels like a separate entity.
“Crying In The Club” is also not present on Cabella’s debut album. In fact, the album itself is disposal of what you thought you knew. Initially, Cabella’s album was going to be titled The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving. While this concept given it’s due within the 10 song personal narrative of her first album, this is a reintroduction. Like a person who left a long time relationship, Cabella gets to properly acquaint herself with the world. “Camila” is just right.
The album starts with “Never Be The Same,” which may throw you for a loop because the opening organ ushers you into a mid-tempo ballad. Right from the beginning, it sets the tone for a personal, emotional experience and not just a pop album that will start off with quintessential top-40 song. The whole album does a balancing act between energy and rumination. Regrets and optimism.
Songs within “Camila” highlight the singer’s strengths creatively. The music arrangements don’t overtake the narrative, but they add to them. There’s a lot of use of piano and sometimes, modern pop formations that guides you into her vocals. “All These Years” one of the first songs on the album that uses an acoustic guitar open allows Cabella to interweave harmonies that add fullness to her impressive vocal range. There’s another showcase inside the latter half of “In The Dark.”
Cabella and executive producer Frank Dukes come together to make personal touches all throughout the album. They not only play to her strengths as a singer, but nods to her Cuban-Mexican heritage, as well. For instance, the part that the Spanish guitar plays midway through the dance hall vibe of “Inside Out” or the Pharrell-produced hit “Havana,” that sounds like a testament tot the flavors of her hometown in Cuba.
Two themes that run concurrently and eventually clash into each other are control and love. The Skrillex-produced reggaeton tinged “She Loves Control” is a summary of Camila’s personality. “don’t you try taming the storm” However, with love, you don’t control every outcome with another person involved. You can only surrender to that feeling and hope to not be broken by someone else’s free will. The piano ballad, “Consquences” within the chorus of how love is this combustible element.
When you’re on your own and in a famous position, there’s this need to separate the real from the fake. We tend to think the existence of celebrity with an overabundance of superficially. Cabella is figuring that out both within an particular individual (“In The Dark”) and the L.A. ecosystem (“Real Friends”). Cabella is very much a confident woman who is still figuring things out on this new journey.
“Camila” is a debut solo album from a person who is actively in the process of molding who they are and what they want to be. This is on the outside of expectations or encased within a collection of people. In 2012, Cabella became a part of Fifth Harmony – a collective. Despite all the success, sometimes you just want more. At 20 years of age, it’s fascinating to walk through a 33 minute journey with something that she can truly call her own.