Cam released her debut album, Untamed, in 2015, and five years later, she's returned with sophomore album The Otherside, released on Friday. During the past five years, during which Cam also got married and had a baby, the California native spent her time exploring every facet of her musical interest, fusing various sources of inspiration into an album that's pure Cam.
"It feels like forever," Cam told PopCulture.com of the time between albums. "I need everyone to hear this. It's been long enough. It's perfect." The 35-year-old shared that working on The Otherside was a slow build over the years, and she made sure to take her time and get everything just right. "The journey is really the best part, and you get there when you're supposed to get there," she mused. "The songs all sort of grew... Just gotta sail with the universe and whatever it hands over."
The overarching theme of The Otherside is its bright and soaring production, which is maintained even when Cam is singing about difficult topics like cheating (the standout lead single "Diane") and living alone after a breakup ("What Goodbye Means").
"I think it's unavoidable because me as a person tries to find the optimism or the healing that can be in those things," Cam explained. "That's the whole reason I make music, is to pull stuff out of my subconscious, bring it to the light and try and heal it for myself and these stories. And I don't know if I could, my little heart might not handle it. It was just full darkness. I don't think I can do that. And also then my head couldn't really believe it if it was full light."
Along with touching on the various stages of love, Cam got introspective on the closer, "Girl Like Me," a piano ballad co-written with Natalie Hemby about becoming disillusioned with life and learning to love yourself.
"I don't hear people tell that part of the story very much, that the world is, it's gonna break your heart, because there's no way you can see it for what it really is," Cam reflected. "People prepare you and they fill you with ideas and Disney movies and at some point in your life, some people are older and some people are younger. You have to get your heart super broken, you know?"
"And then what? Not just the world's disappointing and you're jaded and heartbroken, but then what do you do?" she continued. "Can you move forward being who you are? Complicated and flawed in a complicated and flawed world? I just had to sort of like fall back in love with, you know, the music business after what took, what took me on this really circuitous journey these past five years. Hopefully, it's something that other people needed to hear too."
In addition to being almost entirely co-written by Cam, The Otherside also includes cuts co-written by artists like Harry Styles, Sam Smith and the late DJ Avicii, who worked with Cam on the album's title track.
"In this whole journey to make this record and writing songs, that meant a lot to me and trying to kind of, touch all the different colors," Cam shared. "I don't really like making the same song 11 times. I'd like them to feel really different. You need different songs at different times and they just kind of show up." She described Styles (a co-writer on "Changes") and Smith ("Happier For You") as her "musical neighbors" and shared that she was more open to recording an outside song for this project than she may have been before.
"We don't all get to live in Laurel Canyon, like, you know, back in the day, but we do all get to sort of be in the same connections," she said. "You get to know people and what their pursuit is about and what they're trying to accomplish. And you're like, 'Oh, I trust them.' And now I'm going to listen to what they're saying. And it does resonate with me and then they have to trust me to put it on my record. It's a fun little relationship that I got to try out." You can stream The Otherside here.