ALBUM REVIEW: Shawn Mendes – Illuminate

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I have an unpopular opinion and that is that Shawn Mendes is very overrated. His debut album “Handwritten” was a bit pre-mature and had some great musical ideas that needed improvement. However we were blessed with “Stitches” and “Life Of The Party” from that collection as well as “I Know What You Did Last Summer” from the latter re-release but it all just seemed very disjointed. So, with the release of his sophomore studio album I was skeptical going into listening to the record but not only did I walk out slightly impressed by his growth as an artist he also proved me wrong that he had no direction. This is a collection of soulful blues inspired tracks that are guitar driven and take influence from John Mayer and Ed Sheeran. There is no emphasis on “big radio hooks” or moments like “Stitches” as the approach is a bit more natural. This does mean that some songs end up becoming one massive blur and his passionate fans will fight more on this one… but there is a boring factor. in saying that the record does start off strong with the blues introductory track “Ruin” setting the mood while the impressive “Mercy” deeply captivates you before the overexposed “Treat you Better” could do with a skip. The acoustic “Three Empty Words” brings out the romantic side of Mendes before “Like This”, “Patience”, “Don’t Be A Fool” and “Bad Reputation” start the blur effect. “Lights On” and “No Promises” stand out with their rhythmic touch but it’s the strumming and toe tapping “Honest” which impresses and is definitely single worthy material with a radio ready hook. His vocal delivery on this collection is somewhere between the realm of Justin Timberlake and Ed Sheeran but still holds onto a essence of youth and self discovery which will continue his evolution as a artist. His high notes are well executed but any half rap attempts are non existent. This album is not flawless but it is a massive growth from his debut and sees him creating music you can tell he’s actually passionate about.

 

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