May 25, 2018 Shawn Mendes – Shawn Mendes (Album Review)
The saying goes ‘third time’s a charm,’ and Canadian Singer-Songwriter Shawn Mendes is no exception to the rule. An overnight sensation, building his own following while posting cover songs via the internet while still in his early teens, Mendes is back with his third album, a self-titled effort out on Friday, May 25, 2018 through Island Records.
Attaining a list of milestones as a young outstanding artist, Mendes swept the nation with hit singles like 2015’s “Stitches,” as well as 2016’s “Treat You Better,” and “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back.” Now, at only 19 years of age, he continues to rise thanks to hitting number #1 on Billboard Top 200 with his first two albums. Big feats to follow, does Shawn Mendes sink or swim?
The burning question, Mendes has already done so much as a Pop artist, in fact, he is being recognized by TIME as one of the most 100 influential people of 2018. A lot for anyone to handle, Mendes maintains being interactive with fans via social media, keeping everyone connected, but more important is growing as a songwriter. Feeling true to himself as an artist, Mendes takes a stand with his own voice, that said, this new record will show an even more intimate side of him.
The first single, “In My Blood,” is about the will to overcome, whether it be addiction, depression, or hopelessness. Here, snippets of slam poetry find itself in the midst of the progressively Pop Rock chaos. Yes, Mendes transforms sweet, tender background vocals into a comfort blanket as he determinedly cries out, “It’s like the walls are caving in / but I just can’t / It isn’t in my blood.”
Setting the tone for the album, themes of being in and out of love strike a chord many times as well. This is especially the case with tracks such as “Lost In Japan” and “Where Were You In The Morning.” Funky bass drives the Hip Hop/Pop influenced “Lost In Japan” – painting a picture of a certain someone being on Mendes’ mind. Miles separate the two lovebirds, despite knowing the chemistry between them is more than a friendship. Then, the Justin Timberlake influence continues with “Where Were You In The Morning,” lyrically showing devastation after what is either a one-night stand or someone who just walks away suddenly. Bluesy guitar and deep bass are showcased from the get-go, matched with a magnificent falsetto vocal.
Yet, there is more and one of the most gut-wrenching songs comes with “Like To Be You.” A duet playing out dialogue and thoughts of the worry of losing someone after a fight, the mainly acoustic song was co-written and features rising Pop Artist and Songwriter Julia Michaels. The songwriting is genius and relate-able conveying the common feeling of relationships that rarely does anyone see an attempt to put oneself in the other person’s shoes. Both singing beautifully and contagiously paint a picture of heartache, like dried mascara tears or a pillow squeezed too tight.
Another co-write collaboration, this time with Ed Sheeran, “Fallin’ All In You” is another stand out moment. Here Mendes takes to Sheeran’s style, sing-rapping certain phrases with his own take. Matching it all, the melody is so sweet and pure with Mendes singing about how someone “brings out a different kind of me.” Then there is “Why” where heavy keys set a sinking, mellow mood of yearning for a soulmate who seems just out of reach. Musically, it matches the lyrical content as the weight makes it hard to breathe. Imagine floating within the deep sea among jellyfish as the dark undertones take control, you then would have this smooth R&B track. This pattern of heartache follows with “Because I Had You,” a song expressing the emotion of having to force oneself to move on though it seems impossible. Possessing a similar dark undertone as the previous track, though more organic in sound, there is just a beautiful guitar and soft finger-snapping.
The pace picks up for notably honest “Queen” and “Youth.” Sassy and confrontational, “Queen” sticks up for oneself without getting ugly about it. A compelling piece, it carries an interesting tone in the acoustic guitars, while Mendes sings, “I see the way you’re looking through me right now to see if there’s something cooler around.” On the other hand, infectious Pop-Hop, “Youth” is probably the most meaningful cut on the entire record. Featuring Khalid for a sing-along theme, acoustic guitar sets a mid-tempo vibe while the voices echo and the pain remains evident, but while transforming the hopeless feeling into reflection and evolution.
Also worth talking about is the tear-jerking serenade “When You’re Ready” where Mendes shows soft and gentle reassurance for his lover that he will be waiting until they are ready. If someone wrote a song about the ultimate love story for Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook or James Cameron’s Titanic, this would be it. Oh so smooth, it will undoubtedly make anyone swoon. This warmth carries with the genuineness and sincerity in Mendes’ voice, closing out the 14 track album magically.
Shawn Mendes should be basking in the glory of his most honest self. Shawn Mendes, the album, has a way of conveying emotion lyrically and through the simplicity of the music. The playlist does not show a single flaw in movement from beginning to end, cradling one of the smoothest transitions of any record out there today. That is why CrypticRock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.