‘Camila’ Review: Camila Cabello’s Powerful Solo Debut

Camila Cabello originally planned to call her solo debut “The Hurting, The Healing, The Loving.” It was going to be about her struggle since leaving Fifth Harmony and be built around the wrenching single “I Have Questions.” (Main question: “Why don’t you care?”)

Funny thing, though. As she worked on the album last year, buoyed by the success of her collaborations “Bad Things” with Machine Gun Kelly and then “Havana” with Young Thug, the questions didn’t seem important any more.

Camila Cabello now had answers. And on her debut “Camila” (Epic), she delivers them with the confidence and power of an artist with far more than Cabello’s 20 years under her belt.

The sultry “Havana,” which pays tribute to Cabello’s Cuban heritage and has now topped the pop charts for seven weeks, provides a solid foundation for the rest of “Camila” and its ambitions to establish her as a pop star as bankable as Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato.

Cabello is at her peak on the new single “Never Be the Same,” which shows off what sets her apart from the pop pack. The way her breathless voice breaks at the top of her register when she confesses, “Just like nicotine, heroin, morphine, suddenly I’m a fiend and you’re all I need” is the mark of an artist. That she can quickly switch to her full voice for the desperate chorus is the mark of a star.

“Camila” also has plenty more hits to roll out. “She Loves Control” combining a Latin-tinged reggaeton groove and an irresistible chorus. The delightful “Into It” steps right into the sweet spot between Carly Rae Jepsen’s retro indie-pop and Sia’s unexpected phrasing, something that livens up the gorgeous ballad “Something’s Gotta Give.”

With “Camila,” Cabello proves that she is a forced to be reckoned with and ready to be one of 2018’s breakout stars.