I am coming in very late to Shawn Mendes (Dear God, what has happened to me?) but I know he crafts good pop songs: the ones they play on the radio, the ones that give you last-song-syndrome, the ones that define a particular place in time for people. I don’t knwo much about hsi earlier albums, although I think I kind of know ‘Mercy.’ So I am comning into ‘Shawn Mendes,’ his third album, clean. And now I ask myself – where has he been all my life?
This is a slickly produced album by a young man who is still int he cusp of what he can achieve, artistically. As an album, it is still a little disjointed. It doesn’t still seem to know what it wants to be, and I think that could be a reflection of the artist himself. In one song, he is talking about anxiety, int he next, he has fake braggadocio about a young girl with attitude. Hey we were all young once weren’t we? We were all over the place too.
But when he hits a particular sweet spot, it’s satisfying. My top favorite is the funky R& B infused ‘Lost In Japan,’ where he sings about flying to see a girl because he can’t get her off his mind. Yeah, I totally get that feeling. And in ‘Where Were You In The Morning,’ there’s a shy little boy in him that’s hurt. Mendes seems to be one of those Mr. Nice Guys (just so my type, by the by) and that shows in his music. He cops to a little bit of a daek side in ‘In My Blood,’ (aka the anxiety song) but even in there, he can’t help himself. His duet with Julia Michaels, ‘Like To Be You’ is smooth as silk (with great guitar work by John Meyer) and in ‘Nervous,’ he achieves sounding just like that.
‘Shawn Mendes’ is great pop, probably better taken in small pieces as a whole. But I still feel there’s more and better to come from him. As he says in interviews, he can’t wait for his first real heartbreak so he can write about it. I can’t wait.