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Camila Cabello released her first solo album earlier this year. I found myself both concerned and intrigued to find out what direction her music would take after her split from Fifth Harmony. My concern came from the vocals we had heard from her in the past. She had, a tendency to sound really nasally during her high parts, particularly when she sang them live. I was hoping that her new album would enhance her mid-voice and avoid these vocal problem areas. I was also excited to see the style of music she would lean towards. In past interviews Camila had stated that she really looked up to musicians like Demi Lovato and Ed Sheeran, so I wondered if she would go in that direction, or stick closer to the bubblegum pop she sang in Fifth Harmony.
I must say that this album exceeded all of my expectations. The lead-off single I Have Questions gave us our first glimpse into the real Camila. This song could have been made into a pop anthem, but instead, she chose to keep it relatively slow with just cello and few other instruments. I think that this adds a depth to her that we could have never seen before because she isn’t covering her pain with crazy beats and an upbeat tempo. As a listener, I can more easily connect to the meaning and pain behind the lyrics.
This completely contrasted her second lead-off chart topper Havana. This song takes beats and melodies from traditional Cuban music and blends it perfectly with American pop. The chorus is catchy and makes an excellent earworm that one can hum for hours after you listen to it. I’m not one to really get behind a straight-up pop song, but this one really blew me away. I liked that there was a Cuban influence, but it didn’t alienate the listener. I was even more shocked it stayed on Billboards Hot 100 at number 1. It most likely would have stayed there for a few more weeks had it not been dethroned by Taylor Swifts Reputation album.
These two singles got me super excited about the album and the direction her music was taking, but I was still wary of the vocal problems that had plagued her in the past. The new album had songs like Consequences and Never Be the Same that used more of her midrange voice, probably to combat the mentioned vocal issues, but the other more pop-based songs like Inside out and Into It didn’t follow this trend. So though I really liked the music she was producing, I wasn’t sold on her being her own solo artist quite yet. To me, she still had to prove that she could sing the music I was so into as well live as on the track.
It all came down to the Jingle Ball Tour. I waited with anticipation for the youtube videos of her live performance to come out. At first, it was a little rocky. She still seemed to carry an unpleasant nasality in her higher ranged performances, and sometimes her vocals would sound slightly out of breath in the more upbeat pop songs. However, she sold me on her live performance of I Have Questions and Consequences. There was so much soul in her vocals that I could feel the pain she was describing. I had to admit that even though her vocals weren’t perfect, she sounded way better than she ever had in Fifth Harmony.
Overall, Camila has proven herself to me as a bona fide solo artist with the capability to pull off both a catchy pop song and a heartfelt ballad. I think that becoming a solo artist allowed her to show what she is good and lets her sing in a range that makes her sound better. Camilla’s album is the perfect mix of my two favorite styles, and I look forward to hearing the music she makes in the future.