ALBUM REVIEW: Cam – ‘The Otherside’

LifeInASong_UK

At long last, we have the follow-up to Cam’s 2015 debut album. Her sophomore collection, ‘The Otherside’, covers the transitions in her life since ‘Untamed’, and delves into new depths with a much more layered, textural collection that sees Cam pushing the boundaries both sonically and lyrically. 

“I’ve got some stories to share from a formative chapter in my life,” says Cam. “Personal changes and perspective changes, learning to accept the jumble of darkness and light in myself and in others. It’s terrifying and electric and the point of being alive.”

The title track, ‘The Otherside’, is fantastic. Her guest feature on Diplo’s ‘So Long’ last year unveiled a whole new dimension to Cam’s sound, with its country-EDM infusion. ‘The Otherside’ follows suit, written with Hillary Lindsey, the late Tim Bergling (Avicii) and Tyler Johnson. Man, this is good. It’s haunting, dark, groovy and infectious, all in equal measure. Cam’s voice suits this sound so well; it might piss off the traditionalists a little, but this is a prime example of an artist opening up their ‘comfort zone’ and finding something that really clicks. Love it.

Fans who’ve watched Cam live over the last couple of years will need no introduction to ‘Forgetting You’, a huge power ballad about those lonely nights spent trying to get over a lost love. Lyrically, this is one of the album’s strongest moments, with its imagery of “you rising up like smoke” and the “Ice machine in your memory, all I hear down the hall”. A thought-provoking, heartbreak-inducing masterpiece, written alongside Lori McKenna, Mitchell Rowland, Tyler Johnson. Production-wise, you might be expecting the big, arena vibes to come through here, but there’s a much more stripped-back acoustic feel, with a focus on Cam’s vocals for the most part. For better or for worse, it’s still one hell of a song. 

There are a couple of eyebrow-raising guest writers involved in the album, with Harry Styles on ‘Changes’ and Sam Smith on ‘Happier For You’. Cam seems to have forged some hugely valuable relationships in the industry over the past few years, and to get first dibs on these songs is a pretty big statement, and a huge endorsement for her talent as an artist. The former, ‘Changes’, is a lovely toe-tapper that grows on you more with every listen. It has its own place on the album with its infectious finger-picking melody that morphs into an ethereal chorus. ‘Happier For You’ is undeniably a Sam Smith co-write – it’s dramatic and so hard-hitting, with a nice throwback feel. Simple, melodically, but very effective. 

The two major stand-outs on the album are ‘Like A Movie’ and ‘What Goodbye Means’. The former was co-written with The Love Junkies – Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose. Let’s be honest, it’s never going to be a weak song when those three are on the credits. Cam chatted with us about the inspiration for the song, which came from her husband, Adam..

“We’d been married a couple of years at this point. We were looking at each other across the table, and I said, “How did you know it was me? How did you know not to wait for someone else?” and he didn’t miss a beat… he said, “because when I met you it was like a movie”, and my faith in humanity was restored!”

A beautiful, almost Disney movie-esque track that’s just as dreamy as its back story. It’s one of those that sweeps you away, and one you’ll probably find yourself going back to after the first listen. The same can be said for ‘What Goodbye Means’, an outpouring of regret from someone staring at divorce papers, questioning just what went wrong. It’s a heart-tugger with a stunning Californian-flavoured chorus that explodes into life. Cam at her very best.

Closing out with ‘Girl Like Me’, a brutally honest, reflective co-write with master songstress Natalie Hemby, we have a fitting end to an album that suitably represents Cam’s new chapter in her life and career. It’s a brave album in a production sense; sonically different to its predecessor, and one that showcases much more of her artistry and songwriting depth.

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan

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