Light Up With Shawn Mendes’ New Album “Illuminate”

Let’s be honest, we all know how amazing Shawn Mendes is at singing, but when “Treat You Better” first came out, we all knew this album will be the one we all need in our lives. What we weren’t prepared for was the amazing soulful and emotional album that was released, this is beyond our expectations.
As a complete package, this album has it all. Perhaps leaning towards the ballad side of things, this entire album is filed with emotion, honesty, truth and intensity.

His vocals are on point throughout, and there isn’t a single song that fails to hit the mark. He is definitely a singer to watch, especially with this album hitting number one on iTunes globally. He’s voice is pure fire.

Five songs were previously released as promotional instant grat singles, these include the lead singles “Treat You Better” and “Mercy”. All five gave something new and different to the album, really showing off the breadth and range Shawn Mendes had gone to for this album. “Ruin”, “Three Empty Words” and “Don’t Be a Fool”, combined with the lead singles still didn’t prepare us for the heartfelt emotion that came from him.

The two lead singles are fully strong. They are both so catchy and definitely stand out on the album as a whole, it’s understandable why “Treat You Better” and “Mercy” were chosen as singles; the latter of which is currently stuck in my head.

His vocals are powerful on every track, but especially on “Ruin”, “Like This” and “Bad Reputation”. All three are mainly ballads, but “Ruin” has a promotional music video to go with it. As for “Like This” it’s slow and stripped back, focusing mainly on his beautiful vocals which gains momentum. It comes from the heart, just like “Bad Reputation”. This song is also slow but towards the end brings a falsetto like no other, talk about soul!

The catchiest songs definitely come from the two released singles as well as “No Promises”, “Lights On” and “Honest”. All three are much more upbeat and heading to the pop music genre we all know and love. These are stacked together in the album, amongst a lot of emotional ballads. These three are much more personal; as if he’s serenading someone. If only it was us he was serenading.

However, as with most albums, some tracks don’t quite hit the mark. “Three Empty Words” is one of them. This song comes after “Mercy” and “Treat You Better” on the album track list; this is a major problem because “Three Empty Words” is completely slow and gentle, fully relaxed and just feels out of place. “Patience” is pretty similar, in the fact that it’s out of place. It has a fired-up chorus that is too expecting, it doesn’t lead anywhere. It’s quite haunting too, however it’s a grower of a song.

If there was a killer track, it’s “Don’t Be a Fool”, followed by “Understand”. The former is a highly emotional ballad, sure to hit you where it hurts. Expect tears and the cut of heart-strings, because this song is that powerful. As for “Understand”, at first it seems like another ballad song on the album, but Shawn Mendes flips it on its head and delivers something unbelievable. What we weren’t expecting was him to stop singing and actually give us some inspiring words before finishing the song! Talk about surprising us. What a way to end the album!

These are his words in the song “Understand”:

“When you wake up
Your whole world’s flipped
It’s just different and you gotta, you know
You gotta, you gotta go with it
That’s just simply growing up
And not see it in a negative way
You have to see it as it’s been given to you
I mean, as much as times can be crazy
You’re gonna feel like that’s where you’re supposed to be
You’re not gonna feel out of place anymore
You’re gonna feel like that’s where you were meant to be
You don’t have to pretend that it’s easy all the time
You just let it go and, and grow with it
And you can’t hold on
To the old you
Or the old this
Or the old that
Because you know you change
And it’s not changing in a bad way
It’s just changing
Because that’s what happens in life
You grow up
Everyone moves on
You’re just learning
You stay true to yourself
Changing isn’t a bad thing
It never was
But at the end of the day, you know
You’re the same person
And, and where your heart is
That doesn’t change”

As a whole, this album is like going to see him at a concert. With that last song, he connects with his audience and brings it home. However, he has more to give when it comes to the deluxe version of the album, with three more tracks.

“Hold On” and “Roses” are two more ballads. They fail to give anything more to the album, as Shawn Mendes has definitely given us everything already. However, they are highly emotional, with “Hold On” being extremely personal. It has a storyline format that captures us into the world of Shawn Mendes. “Roses” is him serenading us once again, shame it’s not real. These tracks belong on this album, but are better as additional tracks because there isn’t a great place to put them.

As for the final track “Mercy (Acoustic)”, it is a bonus addition that is gorgeous. This song is too catchy not to be a hit, and I didn’t think it was possible to slow it down any more than the original had been, but I guess he proved me wrong and it’s just as strong, if not more so.

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As a full album, this is perfection. Shawn Mendes has outdone himself, vocals are strong and powerful throughout. He has put his all into this and it really shows. Would’ve liked to have seen more pop songs, because this is jam-packed full of ballads, but we can totally accept that especially with how personal these songs are. Thank you Shawn Mendes for giving us this album.