Updated: Jan 21, 2019
Author: Emma Gampper
Photo courtesy of iTunes
Canada has given the world many amazing singers, including The Weeknd, Drake, Michael Bublé and Shawn Mendes. The young artist, at only 19 years old, released his eponymous album “Shawn Mendes” on May 25. The young artist opens up about many personal topics throughout the album, such as anxiety, love and pain. Representing many genres of music, Mendes appeals to a variety of tastes and makes sure there is a song for everyone.
The album’s first track is the widely popular song “In My Blood,” in which Mendes opens up about his struggle with anxiety. For such a serious topic, the song features upbeat pop instrumentals and vocals. With both of these factors, Mendes sets the song up to be a hit on the radio that many of those also struggling with anxiety can listen and relate to. “In My Blood” sets the bar for the rest of the album fairly high. However, Mendes does not disappoint, with each song managing to be just as powerful and just as much of a hit. While not as popular as “In My Blood,” “Particular Taste” is equally as good. In this track Mendes sings about a girl who seems to have a rather unique way of flirting. Both songs are rather upbeat and leave the listener fighting the urge to sing along to the catchy lyrics.
Mendes offers contrast to many of the upbeat songs with not as joyful tracks such as “Perfectly Wrong,” “Where Were You in the Morning?” and “Why.” All three tracks are rather somber and sound like they would be on a break up playlist. Despite not being as upbeat as many of the other tracks, these songs are able to stand just as strong and be as good, if not better than many of the pop-based songs. By having these more raw songs mixed in with happier ones, they stand out more and help capture a side of Mendes that the fans do not always get to see.
For two tracks of the album, Mendes collaborates with other young singers; in “Like to Be You” he teams up with 24-year-old Julia Michaels. An up-and-coming artist, Michaels is perhaps best known for her song “Issues.” Her deep and soulful voice merges beautifully with Mendes’ throughout the song. In “Like to Be You,” Mendes and Michaels sing about a fighting couple that is unwilling to acknowledge how the other is feeling. An acoustic guitar solo sounds beautiful followed by the singers’ raspy voices. The popular soul-pop singer Khalid also makes an appearance in “Youth.” The song features an upbeat track and hard-hitting lyrics. Khalid and Mendes write a song encapsulating what it is like to struggle with trying to stay happy and joyful in a world filled with terrorism and violence. The contrast of happier sounding music backing lyrics discussing the struggle of staying happy offer a unique combination. Inspired by the violence in Manchester, “Youth” hits home and serves as anthem for trying to stay positive despite the heartbreak that the world faces.
Mendes leaves it all on the table with his latest album, his honesty and openness about his struggles refreshing to his listeners. However, if there were one thing that could be changed, the album could do with fewer songs about love and heartbreak, as after a while they all begin to sound the same. While Mendes’ album may have a few flaws, his discussion of more serious topics combined with catchy instrumentals make a unique combination that is not seen in modern albums. All in all, “Shawn Mendes” does not disappoint and is definitely worth the listen if you have 44 minutes to spare.