Viva Camila! A favourite of Obama, Camila Cabello's heartfelt songs spurn schmaltz in favour of genuine emotional heft

Camila Cabello

Camila Syco, out now

Rating:

A 20-year-old Cuban-American with Mexican roots, Camila Cabello’s lineage may not be to the taste of Donald Trump, but she at least grabbed the ear of Barack Obama, who listed Cabello’s hit Havana among his favourite songs of 2017. Having quit Fifth Harmony, a girl group thrown together during the US version of The X Factor, Cabello launched her solo career with Havana and made hay from little more than a sultry scrap of a tune and a pleasingly persistent piano motif.

A 20-year-old Cuban-American with Mexican roots, Camila Cabello’s lineage may not be to the taste of Donald Trump, but she at least grabbed the ear of Barack Obama

A 20-year-old Cuban-American with Mexican roots, Camila Cabello’s lineage may not be to the taste of Donald Trump, but she at least grabbed the ear of Barack Obama

The good news is that much of Camila possesses a similarly winning blend of wistful, melodic minimalism.

IT'S A FACT

Camila went to Palmetto High School in Miami – the same school attended by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.  

The primary flavours are simple and strong: Cabello’s breathy, intimate vocals, hints of Latino heat and melancholic longing. A sparse ballad, All These Years, has echoes of Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself. Inside Out is adorned with steel drums and Hispanic come-hithers. On Never Be The Same, Cabello’s Minnie Mouse squeak compares a lost lover to ‘nicotine, heroin, morphine’. The contrast feels bold rather than laughable.

The lack of bolshie dancefloor bangers is equally refreshing. Only Into It succumbs to a dead-eyed depiction of rote carnality. More characteristic is In The Dark’s plea for emotional rather than physical intimacy. Even Consequences, a signature big ballad, keeps schmaltz at bay in favour of genuine emotional heft.

The primary flavours are simple and strong: Cabello’s breathy, intimate vocals, hints of Latino heat and melancholic longing

The primary flavours are simple and strong: Cabello’s breathy, intimate vocals, hints of Latino heat and melancholic longing

Setting the bar high for the modern pop confessional, Camila is at the more heartfelt end of the commercial spectrum – and all the more impressive for it.  

This week's CD releases

Hansard’s third solo album is sad-eyed, soulful stuff

Hansard’s third solo album is sad-eyed, soulful stuff

By Adam Woods 

Glen Hansard

Between Two Shores

Anti, out Fri

Rating:

The skinny guitarist from Alan Parker’s 1991 film The Commitments has gradually forged a career as one of Ireland’s leading singer-songwriters, picking up an Oscar (Best Song in Once) and receiving late-night career advice from Bruce Springsteen. Between Two Shores, Hansard’s third solo album, to add to seven as frontman for Dublin favourites The Frames, is sad-eyed, soulful stuff. It’s more Van than Bruce, with smouldering horns and warm, drifting reflections on a bittersweet life, but lifted above the pack by the ring of experience.

Brighton’s The Go! Team introduce their first album in three years

Brighton’s The Go! Team introduce their first album in three years

The Go! Team

Semicircle

Memphis Industries, out Fri

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With a frantic Morse code signal, a funky drumkit and a chanted refrain, Brighton’s The Go! Team introduce their first album in three years. Always ingenious, their music rams together samples, chants and live instruments into an instant party, equal parts Northern soul, hip hop and indie pop. Semicircle’s ambition is to sound like ‘a school marching band gone rogue’, and while it would be an unlikely rogue marching band that produced anything as coherent or joyous as Mayday or Getting Back Up, it’s an apt description.

 

 

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