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Camila Cabello - Familia Music Album Reviews

Camila Cabello - Familia Music Album Reviews
Camila Cabello’s third album embarks on an exploration of her musical heritage while holding onto familiar themes of love and anxiety. She swings big and often hits.

With “Havana,” Camila Cabello barrelled past the quasi-anonymity of her girl group days to announce who she was and where she was from. The realignment felt complete by the time she sang the hit, a crackling ode to her birthplace, at the 2019 Grammys, making stops to shimmy opposite Ricky Martin and trill along to J Balvin’s “Mi Gente.” Fifth Harmony, the Simon Cowell-engineered quintet with which she’d performed girlbossy pop anthems, was in her past. Now, if not exactly carrying Martin’s torch, she was warmed by the flame he had ignited on the same stage, two decades prior, with a famous performance that heralded the so-called “Latin explosion” in the United States.

Latin pop was an energizing, though not dominant, force across Cabello’s first two solo albums. “She Loves Control,” from her 2018 debut, deploys a reggaeton beat to underscore a statement of self-determination; trumpets and flamenco handclaps adorn the taunting “Liar,” from 2019’s Romance. On her third album, Familia, Cabello—who is half Cuban, half Mexican, and lived in both countries before immigrating to the U.S. at age seven—embarks on a more immersive exploration of her musical heritage. Abandoning the revolving-door approach of previous albums, whose credits read like a directory of pop producers, Cabello locked in with a smaller group of collaborators including Latin pop veterans Cheche Alara (Thalia, Natalia Lafourcade) and Edgar Barrera (Maluma, Natti Natasha). She ushers in the sonic revamp with the tale of a lover—a proxy for her audience, perhaps—who’s transfixed by her culture ​​and compelled to take up salsa dancing. That song, “Celia,” is the first release of her own to be sung entirely in Spanish.

We’ve known this was coming since at least last summer, when Cabello went full Gloria Estefan on Familia’s first single. A neon-streaked entreaty to a partner threatening to bail on a night out, “Don’t Go Yet” is like an overstuffed house party: The guitarist arrives first, then the percussionists, then the brass band, and when there shouldn’t be any room to spare, the choir. The song offers a fitting introduction to an album that swings big and often hits. “La Buena Vida” is similarly maximalist, with an urgent tempo and mariachi theatrics to dramatize the hurt of being stood up: “Why am I home alone with your glass of wine?” Cabello gripes, trumpets blaring in the background.

Even when she’s mad, Camila sounds like she’s having fun. In both Spanish and English, she’s an exuberant and expressive transmitter of language, smashing up words in her mouth and bending phrases around her tongue. Hear how she treats the titular lyric of “Don’t Go Yet” like a rubber band, alternately stretching it out and snapping it back. A capable vocalist with a lightly nasal tone and a dramatic streak, Cabello rarely misses an opportunity to riff or sail into her wispy head voice. But her spoken delivery can be just as captivating: “Baby don’t go yet/’Cause I wore this dress for a little drama,” she says, slipping in a seductive rasp and showcasing her skill as a percussionist as well as a melodist. The line is tossed off like a teasing glance over the shoulder.

Cabello’s actual familia does appear on the album that’s named for them: her young cousin, Caro, on the cover and on “Celia”; her father in the backing vocals on “La Buena Vida.” But on the whole, the record is more taken with romantic than familial love. As the first full-length release by either party following Cabello’s high-profile breakup with Shawn Mendes, Familia can’t avoid tabloid scrutiny, but handles its presumed subject lightly. A few lines reference identifiable details of their relationship, like the Hollywood Hills home Cabello sold shortly after the split; for much of the album, though, the love interest’s main function is to hold up a mirror. Peering into it, Cabello grapples with anxiety and loneliness that surface in her partner’s absence, the paranoia that runs rampant in her brain. On “Hasta Los Dientes,” the album’s second all-Spanish song, Argentine singer Maria Becerra joins to trade lines about fixating on a paramour’s romantic history. Cabello does her best reggaetonera on “No Doubt,” stuttering and heavy breathing while confessing to “seeing red flags that don’t even exist.”

The topic of spiraling is most conspicuously but least effectively handled on “psychofreak,” which guest stars Willow Smith, lending her emo bona fides and a vocal riff that sounds like “Tom’s Diner” got a poltergeist. Forgoing the live instruments that color much of the album, Cabello repeats a single descending melodic line ad nauseum atop moody, blown-out synth. Between its streamlining of musical ideas, vocal cues taken from alt-rappers like Doja Cat and Ashnikko, and trendily self-lacerating subject matter, the song scans as TikTok bait. Much more affecting is “Boys Don’t Cry,” an R&B number where Cabello plays the consoler rather than the inconsolable, swatting away toxic masculinity in the process. She veers ever closer to rapping, landing unexpected rhymes and playing with cadence while pleading for vulnerability in the verse; when the beat falls out in the bridge, it feels like a gust of cool air. The sentiment is sweet, and the writing here is leaps ahead of “In the Dark,” a song from her first album with a similar conceit.

Cabello is a credited writer on all her post-5H songs, and her Instagram essays offer further evidence of her active pen. In a recent one, she mused on the state of perpetual otherness she experiences as an immigrant, mentioning frustration with the limitations of her Spanish and feeling like an outsider in Latinx spaces. “I want so badly to sit at a table I don’t belong to as much as everybody else,” she confessed.

Familia’s penultimate track, “Lola,” works to prove that her Latin immersion is sincere. It centers on a girl growing up poor, her dreams stunted by geography. A lyric referencing “90 miles to the shore”—the distance between Cuba and Key West—sheds light on the story’s setting, as does a guest verse by the rapper Yotuel, whose song “Patria y vida” (“homeland and life”) provided a rallying cry for anti-government demonstrations in Cuba last year. On “Lola,” Yotuel reprises that song’s keystone lyric, which flips the old revolutionary slogan “patria o muerte” (“homeland or death”). Something of a thematic outlier on Familia, “Lola” coheres because it remains grounded in the personal: Cabello’s imagining of her own life, had her family not left Cuba. It shows that she is paying attention not only to her homeland’s cultural exports, but to the plight of its people. Her heart really is in Havana.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Camila Cabello - Familia Music Album Reviews Camila Cabello - Familia Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 Rating: 5

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