Camilla Cabello is somebody new. That much is clear. In her Autumn 19 cover interview, the three-time Grammy nominee explained to Wonderland: “It’s the first time I’ve [made a record by] thinking of it as a whole. I was very intentional about the world I was creating. I made mood boards, I brought posters into the studio to set the vibe. It was the first time I’d done something like that.” What was on the mood boards? “Lots of people kissing,” she laughed.
And successfully so, as a luxuriously hazy sense of romance pervades the entirety of Cabello’s sophomore album. If her debut solo record Camila saw her confidently crafting her own universe away from her Fifth Harmony days, Romance tells us that her feet are now firmly ground within it, and a rich, fully-evolved world of magic, mystery, longing, lust and love has flowered all around her.
Whilst the record is a more sultry, self-possessed evolution of her earlier work, she retains the deeply-dug roots of her Cuban heritage, with moody salsa inflections all throughout. The opening track “Shameless” is a quickening of the heart to set the scene, packed with propulsive guitar riffs, then “Should’ve Said It” and “Liar” are the grittier, more seductive older sisters of her success-making hit “Havana”, with lyrical thump and heady, hip-shaking finesse.
“Living Proof” is utter pop bliss, showcasing the artist’s effortless undulating vocals, packed with her usual emotional intensity, and bolstered with a playful, infectious rhythm. And oh, is she all grown up in “My Oh My”, featuring North Carolina rapper DaBaby, as she explains matter-of-fact to listeners, her lyrics dancing over the sultry notes: ”he’s only here for one thing / so am I”.
Day one supporters of Cabello will obviously stan hard over her viral collaborative track with former Wonderland cover star Shawn Mendes, “Señorita”, the clear palpitating heart of the record (for more reasons than one… see VMAs performance).
But where the album truly catches gale-force wind in its sails is where it cashes in on its stripped-back simplicity. The last three tracks of the album are heavenly examples of Cabello’s penchant for dreamy, pointed storytelling. “This Love” is a pondering slow-strummer imbued with wistful longing and pleading. “Used To This” is another blissful pop meditation on the euphoria of falling in love. And the last track of the album is an outpour of emotion in a heartfelt ode to her father, the “first man who really loved [her]”. Why are we crying.
Camila Cabello will release her highly anticipated sophomore album, Romance, on 6th December via SYCO/Epic Records.