Cam’s feature-length studio debut, Untamed, is a breath of fresh air for country music.
The best way to describe this album is yellow. Much like the color Cam loves to wear, the album radiates joy. Even though it includes the record-setting breakup anthem “Burning House”, you can hear how happy Cam is just to be singing on each song, which is a trait that’s lacking in a lot of today’s music, not just country.
As a whole, Untamed touches on a lot of different topics, although the breakup songs are there — “Burning House”, “My Mistake.” But there’s also some good commentary on country music (“Country Ain’t Never Been Pretty”) and a tear-jerking song about loss and death (“Village”).
The rest of the album is giddy. “Runaway Train,” “Half Broke Heart” and “Untamed” teem with her attitude.
“Untamed”, in particular, is emblematic of the entire album’s tone, skirting the line between pop and country. She sets the agenda early: “Leave behind your daddy’s rules, and all that stuff you learned in school/It’s alright, it’s all good” leads into the chorus of another backwoods party song, but it’s sung with enough confidence that you can forgive the familiar subject matter.
With the clink of a glass, “Untamed” segues into “Hungover on Heartache”, whose happy tone and clap-clap drums belie the sad subject matter of the song. Musical misdirection is a trick Cam uses throughout the album; more than a few sad songs sound happier than they should. It works to her advantage.
If anything, musical misdirection might become Cam’s stock-in-trade: she sounds resiliently happy in the face of the sad subject matter of many of her songs. Hopeful, even. No matter what the song is, it always sounds like she’s having fun on each track and she will come out of the experience (a breakup, the loss of a loved one) a better person. A lot of the songs are bittersweet, highlighting the melancholy side of happiness and vice versa.
As a singer, Cam resembles a young Shania Twain, perfectly content with crafting her own sound while still paying homage to those that went before her. And like Shania, Cam expertly straddles the line between country and pop expertly, each foot firmly planted on either side of that divide.
All that to be said, it’s a shame this album had to come out at the end of the year, a death trap for most musicians. Had Untamed been given more of a marketing push, it might have sold more than it already has, and any album with a song like “Burning House” on it certainly deserves more attention. If it sounds too generic at points, it’s probably because it needed to sound like everything else to get radio play. But make no mistake, this album is just the beginning for Cam.
Untamed is a promising debut from someone who will be around for a long time. This is just Cam’s opening statement.