Shawn Mendes has already made a mark in the music industry by landing his first No. 1 album at 16 years old. But just one year later, he hasn’t only proved that he’s matured in age. With his new album ‘Illuminate,’ Shawn has become an artist who is here to stay — for a long time.
Starting off the album with “Ruin” was an incredibly smart move on Shawn‘s part, as it’s an initial declaration of the maturity he’s achieved in the 17 months since releasing Handwritten. It may be a slow start to the album, but it’s one of the most complex tracks of the 14 on Illuminate, hinting at the mix of guitar-laden tunes that follow like heartbreaking ballad “Don’t Be A Fool” and (quite opposite) adorable love song “Three Empty Words.”
Like those three, a majority of the album focuses on Shawn’s guitar-playing ability. Even when they’re not solely acoustic, many of the songs are on the slower side, like “Patience” “Hold On,” and “Bad Reputation” — but that’s certainly not a bad thing. Plus, the primary focus on guitar helps make piano-based tunes “Like This” and “Understand,” as well as rocking track “Mercy” pleasant surprises on Illuminate, while also making the album one that doesn’t sound like the same thing over and over.
Shawn, 18, has mentioned singers like Jason Mraz and John Mayer as inspirations for his own music, two names who come to mind while listening to Illuminate without even knowing that he has previously cited them as influences. Yet, there’s still a unique element to Shawn’s music that puts him in his own world. Perhaps its the fact that he has the pretty boy face that’s plastered all over the walls of every 13-year-old girl’s bedroom, yet his music doesn’t scream the same “teeny bopper pop sensation” vibe that that of Justin Bieber’s “Baby” did.
While there is still a bit of sticky sweetness involved in Shawn’s music (cue the lyric “Damn you look so good with your clothes on” in the track “Lights On”), Illuminate is more of a showcase of the musician he is from the catchy guitar riffs of “Treat You Better” to the impressive falsetto of “No Promises” and “Honest.” And though he is deemed a pop artist, Shawn incorporates the acoustics of a singer-songwriter type, the edge of an alternative rocker, and even a little touch of blues. With that kind of talent and versatility before he’s even out of his teens, Illuminate seems to be a precursor for the award-winning material he’ll be busting out in the future.
HollywoodLifers, what do you think of Illuminate? Do you like it better than Handwritten? Tell us below!