Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: YouTube
Is any modern pop star's discography as full of dramatic, careening twists and turns as Camila Cabello's?
The ex-Fifth Harmony star's first solo single 'Crying In the Club' was an epic, Sia-penned banger that mysteriously floundered; months later it was replaced as lead single of her debut album Camila by the irresistible, world-conquering 'Havana' - itself initially a promo single(!) released alongside the now-forgotten, album-less 'OMG!'
Two years later, with boyfriend Sean Mendes, she scored another monster hit with the somewhat inert 'Señorita', while superior songs from second album Romance ('Liar', 'Cry For Me') faded away.
Camilizers would be forgiven for wanting something to go to plan for Camila for once. Her team, then, might heave a sigh of relief today: the 24-year-old's new single 'Don't Go Yet' feels... right.
Opening with urgent, scratchy flamenco guitar and luscious ad-libs from Camila, the song plunges into swift, thumping beats - it's a toe-tapper, and what a relief when so many singles of yore ('Havana' notwithstanding) were languid to a fault.
Eschewing synths and vocoders, Camila's underrated voice is soulful over real instruments, from textured maracas to soaring horns. With her third album Familia out later this year, it's a dynamic start to a new era.
As she begs her lover to stay over a chanted chorus and the sound of an all-out party, Camila exudes glamour and charisma. But one slight problem: whether in English or Spanish, some of the lyrics - sang with a growling, devil-may-care slur - are difficult to decipher.
While the words themselves are far from poetry ("Whatchu' leavin' for, when my night is yours? Just a little more, don't go yet"), they are assertive, turning submissive 'don't leave me!' cliches on their head. (Shakespears Sister's 'Stay' this ain't...).
Camila feels in control, and as such, this is perhaps a punchy, self-assured descendant of the classic Camila album track 'She Loves Control'. (That that song didn't receive a single release is a crime, by the way).
Despite the professional fits and starts, Camila's talent and magnetism - apparent since 5H's debut on The X Factor US in 2012 - have never wavered. Bolstered by a colourful, Pedro Almodóvar-esque video, 'Don't Go Yet' is the moment of clarity she needed. Here's hoping it connects.
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