Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ashvini Reviews Camila Cabello’s Debut Album, Camila [Guest Poster: Ashvini]

Camila Cabello is an absolutely sensational singer-songwriter. Her songs are delicately crafted, so blunt and brilliant and raw in their deliveries and melodies, and her voice is a piercing, provocative blade of careful power. She’s ready to fight for you, bleed for you, and ache for you. She’s an artist through and through because she wears her heart on her sleeves. Only artists confront the most sensitive and human realities with unwavering confidence.

And with Camila, she’s thrown down everything she has; she’s torn her wounds open willingly for your listening pleasure in each of the eleven tracks, with the wish that you’ll learn and relate to her experiences. So below is my track-by-track review of her album.

“Never Be Same”

I think that this song could have been boring if anyone else was singing it. This whole comparison:

Just like nicotine, heroin, morphine, 
Suddenly, I’m a fiend and you’re all I need, 
All I need, yeah, you’re all I need

... is one that is common. Countless songs have compared love, or rather loving someone, to a drug addiction — as this palpable, damaging thing. Because hey, matters of the heart have the capacity to do that. Yet there’s something about Camila’s voice — the sharp, effervescent nature of it — that makes these lines convincing. Even though I know better, I believe it. Suspension of disbelief and all of that.

Also, I’d like to mention that her falsetto especially is kind of distorted and weird, and I enjoy it.

“All These Years”

Apparently this song was quite difficult for Camila to release because it’s so personal. And it is. It’s a courageous thing to be open about exes, because you hold a piece of them that only you understand. How could anyone else relate?

But it’s something we all go through. Being close to someone who you used to be vulnerable with after so long, brings back a rush of memories that are just that. Memories. Something you can only remember and never have back. Never relive. And it sucks.

The chorus is great at explaining this emotion:

'Cause after all these years,
I still feel everything when you are near,
And it was just a quick "Hello," and you had to go,
And you probably will never know,
You're still the one I'm after all these years,
(Oh yeah)

You can’t have that person back in your life like it they used to be, but you still feel everything for them. And who knows if they even feel the way you do. To you, those memories are the world, and that’s where the anguish lies. It’s this dull ache that settles in your heart: crushing and unmistakable.

“She Loves Control”

This is my favorite song on the record. Not only do I relate to it immensely — just the title itself might as well be the name of my memoir — but God, it’s the combination of Camila’s wistful vocals, the upbeat bass, and the delicately played strings of the alluring Spanish guitar that makes it one to remember.

I could wax poetic about how much I adore this song for many paragraphs, so I’m just going to leave it at this: give it a listen and get ready to play it on repeat into this summer.

“Havana” (feat. Young Thug)

I first heard this song at my sorority chapter in October and every girl in my house collectively lost their minds, dropping everything just to turn up. And that is a sure sign that a song is a hit. That night I went home, downloaded “Havana” on my Apple Music account (holla), and listened to it on loop for what was realistically a month. Everything about it is so addictive, so cool, and fun that it kept me moving through life.

I love the blend of the Latin — particularly Mexican and Cuban — motifs with the modern hip-hop collaboration from Young Thug. It’s a sweet blend of elements which are especially representative of Camila’s background and family, and her music journey. It’s like a dedication to who she really is, or who she wants us to see as a musician, and I’m intrigued.

“Inside Out”

Of all of the songs on this record, this was the one I wasn’t quite sure about in terms of general likability, at first. But after a few listens, I did come around to it. I think what I was at odds about was that it seemed like a blend of songs she has already done. This could have very well been an interlude to “Havana” for all we know, like “I Have Questions” was to “Crying in the Club.” Also, the repetitive, bubblegum pop nature of this song is overdone but it’s different because it’s Camila. She’s starkly different in skill and presentation as a musician, and her fun, bouncy nature is just a piece of her. This song is just a piece of her.

Really, I do enjoy this song for what is, which is a part of Camila is as an artist: someone who wants to take risks, challenge herself in different music genres and schemes, but grounds herself with her smooth, effortless lyrics.


Upon my first listen of this ballad, I cried. Which... okay yes, I cry a lot. But listen, this song is beautiful and heartbreaking. What I really love about this is that you, as the listener, gets a glimpse of what Camila is like in the bittersweet mood swings of heartbreak.

Everything about what she feels for someone who’s no longer in her life is so evident in the construction of the song, and it’s fascinating to me — the way she weaves a story simply but with so much intensity.

The contrasts between verse one and chorus one, and verse two and chorus one, where she swells back and forth between the lovely little highs of being in love and the consequences of those highs is pretty darn clever. It’s especially clever when she pulls back briefly and welcomes in chorus two and presents this light to dark contrast immediately. The impact of that back and forth with the effect of her melodious, lilted voice while delivering utterly devastating lines like:

Secret keeping, stop the bleeding, 
Lost a little weight because I wasn't eating, 
All the souls that I can't listen to, to tell the truth. 

... is a punch to the gut.

“Real Friends”

You know, this song represents a lot about my generation. We live in a time where recognition — or being liked — is more important than ever, because we deem it to be a projection of how many friends are in our circle or, dare I say, our squad. Which... it’s not at all. There are so many people who like my Instagram pictures but who I have never carried even one conversation with in real life. And it’s hard to deal with this disconnect.

That’s not to say that I don’t have a few friends in my life who I love and care for both on and off social media, but I think the number of truly challenging, truly life-changing friendships is harder to develop if you put too much value into your likes from random people than into the reality of those who actually care about you.

I’d like to believe that that’s what Camila is getting at in this song: which is that type of loneliness that can result from people who act like your friends on different platforms, but don’t show up in real life or prove that you truly matter to them in any tangible way. It’s hurtful to have to deal with that when all you want is validation and recognition. And to want those things is not at all a strange thing. That’s what makes us human. To me, “Real Friends” is about wanting to experience those emotions with friends in a way that is recognizable and honest — no holding back and no guises.

“Something’s Gotta Give”

Listening to this track is like slowly falling into an abyss of your own feelings: things you don’t want to admit to anyone, much less yourself. It’s really the repetition in the pre-chorus that makes this song as fierce and somber as it is:

I should know by now,
You should know by now,
We should know by now,

Camila is with someone and they aren’t communicating like they should, they aren’t confronting the very real problems that surround them, and they should know better. But they’re just waiting on the edge for something to push them — some extreme situation to come along to force them to deal with their issues. And it’s agony, this waiting, because something’s gotta give. But you just have to wait, until there’s no reason to stay.

If anything, this songs cements the fact that Camila can write a heck of a love ballad — one good enough to make you mull over the problems in your own life.

“In the Dark”

I think this song is an amalgamation of the unsettled feelings I have when I meet a cute boy and he’s acting like something’s he not. He’s so scared to be himself around his friends, but sometimes he’ll say these really profound things giving me a sneak peek into who he is. It’s odd.

I think that we’ve all experienced this, in romantic and platonic situations: where people put on airs of something they are so clearly not, and all you want to do is just grab them by the shoulders and yell, “It’s okay to be you! I validate you! Don’t hide!”

I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever do that, but it’s a nice fantasy, right?

“Into It”

This track sounds a bit like Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Let’s Get Lost” — like a darker, less hyper-rhythmic version of that song. Although, I suppose the sentiment between the two songs is similar. Like in “Let’s Get Lost” in “Into It,” Camila sings about someone in her life that she wants to dive headfirst with, holding nothing back; she’s into it and everything that person wants to do. She’s all for careless fun as long as they’re together. It’s sweet and silly, unexpected and engaging.

It’s a honeyed ditty that I can’t quite shake.


With Camila, a narrative is sung.

Camila takes bits and pieces of her life — significant people and essential moments and valuable places that have influenced her and her persona — and written the impacts of those factors into each trill and run that she expends. It’s a delightful thing to hear the jagged honesty of who she is woven through her lyrics, and I don’t know if it’s just her persona or something else, but there is a genuine depth pulsating in each track that is unbreakable.

Thus this record is a reflection, through and through, of what’s it’s like to be young, broken, and desperate to piece yourself back together despite everything.

I’m certain that this album is proof that this can be done, tenfold.


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