Launching a music career by posting 6 second long snippets of himself performing covers on the app Vine, Shawn Mendes has propelled himself into a remarkable music career and promising future in it. At the young age of only 18, he has already built up impressive credentials, touring with such artists as Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. On Mendes’s second studio album, Illuminate, he continues to expand his network and industry presence by working with the Grammy nominated producer, Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran’s X), and the team who collaborated with him on his well received first album, Handwritten, Scott Harris and Teddy Geiger.
From the first track, Ruin, it is apparent that Mendes has shifted to a more mature and soulful sound, and far more introspective lyrical content. He was inspired by John Mayer after having listen to his album Continuum on repeat at the time of conceiving Illuminate, and even having Mayer, himself, mentor him on his song-writing process. The more stripped back tracks such as Three Empty Words and Don’t Be A Fool are certainly of the same style. Mendes vocal performance is touching as he sings earnestly, with an emotive delivery in every song.
There is a great mix of slower ballads, for example Like This and Roses, and more energetic tracks such as Treat You Better (the first single lifted off the album). In No Promises Mendes presents us with a fresh and playful rhythmic component made up of layers of percussion and guitar. Mercy is an exciting song because it has satisfying contrast between the verse and the stadium filling sound of the chorus, it gives a lift every time it comes around.
Mendes’s maturity is notable throughout the album not only in the actual music and sound, but in the themes explored in his lyrics. He is certainly an old soul, wise beyond his years. Shawn Mendes will have all the girls swooning with the endearingly woo-ful songs of Illuminate.