Camila Cabello starts off her third studio album, “Familia,” with an 18-second trumpet solo, and immediately, you can tell this album is going to be different from her previous two.
“Familia” comes after rough times in her personal life. This album was made during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and is about dealing with anxiety and the ending of her two-year relationship with Shawn Mendes.
Since Cabello just got out of a widely publicized and discussed relationship, it was assumed a lot of this album would be about Mendes and what really happened in their relationship. Tracks like “La Buena Vida,” “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Everyone at This Party” detail the most about the romance.
The album is cleverly titled “Familia” because it’s full of familiarity, and she uses her Cuban-American heritage to its full extent. Real family members of hers like her father and little cousin (who is featured on the cover of the album) sing background vocals, and the heavy use of Spanish instrumentation pulls the whole album together.
Cabello released the lead single for this album, and one of my favorite songs, “Don’t Go Yet,” back in July 2021. Whenever the rowdy chorus comes around, it is so energetic and expansive that I instantly feel like I am at a party and singing along with everybody in the room.
The second single, “Bam Bam,” featuring Ed Sheeran, has major potential to be her biggest hit since “Señorita” and it has everything you like about Cabello in one song. The chorus could be the thesis of this album.
“Así es la Vida, sí / Yeah, that’s just life, baby / Yeah, love came around and it knocked me down / But I’m back on my feet,” Cabello sings.
It’s my favorite part of the song because she is accepting life for whatever it is and yielding to reality.
A major standout on the album and the track I have been playing nonstop since its release is “Psychofreak,” featuring Willow Smith, known as WILLOW.
“Psychofreak” is completely unexpected in many ways from the lyrical content and dark sound to the collaboration actually working great between Cabello and WILLOW. You would not expect them to work well together since Cabello’s sound is more Latin-influenced pop music and WILLOW is an alternative rock artist, but somehow they came together and created a magnificent song.
The song shows Cabello’s self-awareness, and while mainly a song about dealing with anxiety, “Psychofreak” also features many of the most standout lyrical moments on the album.
“Blink and the fairytale falls apart / Sorry, didn’t mean to get so dark / Maybe I’m an alien, Earth is hard,” Cabello sings.
Cabello’s songwriting thrives on this album. She has been highlighting her songwriting from her Fifth Harmony days, and of course, the other lyrics that caught my attention were those where she reflected on leaving the group in “Psychofreak.”
“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, down,” Cabello sings.
Another favorite on the album is “La Buena Vida,” a song I have been anticipating since she sang it on her NPR Tiny Desk Concert last fall. Cabello’s confidence is flourishing in this track, and though the sad undertone about her failed relationship with Mendes is present, she made a hell of a song out of it. The opening words are a gut punch, showing Cabello’s disappointment with where the relationship is at and realizing it is not the love or life she thought it would be.
“I woke up happy by accident / I forgot you were gone again,” Cabello sings.
“Familia” finds a confident and accepting Cabello and features some of her most personal work to date. Cabello has been a prominent fixture in the music industry since the start of her solo career, and it does not seem like this third studio album will stop that anytime soon.