Camila Cabello: “Familia” Review

After two and a half years since her sophomore album, “Romance,” Camila Cabello has returned to the music scene with her third album, “Familia.” In this album, Cabello takes the listener on a journey as she sings about love, heartbreak, anxiety, social issues and family. Cabello incorporates her Cuban-Mexican heritage into her songs by combining cumbia, salsa and mariachi sounds with the perfect blend of embracing her inner pop persona. 

Before the album’s release, Cabello released two singles “Don’t Go Yet” and “Bam Bam” featuring Ed Sheeran. The chorus of “Don’t Go Yet” is infectious and oozes the Latin family culture from the salsa rhythms and flamenco claves, making it a refreshing, joyous celebration. Cabello comes to terms with her breakup with pop superstar Shawn Mendes in “Bam Bam.” The lyric “Así es la Vida, sí/Y sigue bailando,” which translates to “that’s life, yes and keep dancing,” serves as a post-breakup anthem about moving on and getting back on your feet.

“Familia” opens with “Celia,” named after the queen of salsa, Celia Cruz. The song is one of the album’s highlights as it features Cabello’s eight-year-old cousin, who provides background vocals on the song. The song discusses a young man who is enamored and in love with the beauty and the culture of Cuba. “Psychofreak” proves to be the album’s most edgy piece, thanks to Willow Smith’s injection of intensity. Cabello’s anxiety and vulnerabilities are showcased in the song, which doubles as an apology letter to her former girl group Fifth Harmony. “Everybody says they miss the old me / I been on this ride since I was 15 / I don’t blame the girls for how it went down,” she sings. While the song demonstrated Cabello’s incredible songwriting abilities, it was flat and dull, and Cabello’s nasally, raspy voice didn’t compliment the alternative R&B track.  

Songs like “La Buena Vida,” “Hasta Los Dientes” and “Lola” continue to highlight her Latin heritage. “La Buena Vida” is a tribute to Cabello’s Mexican heritage, with Mariachi trumpets and guitars accompanying Cabello’s father’s singing. She sings in English, lamenting the loss of a partner who is no longer with her. Cabello’s voice once again struggles to accompany the beat well with her nasally voice presenting a flat presence on a very quality Mariachi beat. “Hasta Los Dientes,” a lighthearted song about a boyfriend’s jealousy with a Latin-disco pop flavor, features Argentine singer María Becerra and is one of my favorite songs off the album as it’s innovative and fresh. “Lola” reminds me of a telenovela, a Spanish soap opera, I would watch with my abuela as the song discusses social issues, such as poverty, misogyny and corruption. The song demonstrates Cabello’s songwriting skills over cumbia rhythms. “Familia” takes a break from the Latin sound towards the end of the album with pop ballads “Quiet,” “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Everyone at this Party,” which expose Cabello’s darkest troubles as the lyrics can resonate with anyone.

“Familia” is Cabello’s diary as she shows her love and passion for music and her culture. Cabello has found her musical identity, cementing her status as a superstar, proving she is not going anywhere anytime soon.

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