Illuminate Your Life with Shawn Mendes

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He grew up between the ghost town of Altona and the marina on Frenchman’s Bay where part of the 1994 comedy The Ref with Kevin Spacey was filmed. He could have sought employment at the city’s nuclear power plant but opted instead for following in the footsteps of other musical greats born or raised in his hometown of Pickering, Ontario, like Neil Young and Sarah Slean. Shawn Mendes scored a platinum debut album when he was 16 years old attending Pine Ridge Secondary School. Much Music VJs called him the “second coming of Ed Sheeran” and “the new Bieber” while the American press compared him to John Mayer. That album was Handwritten, a collection of simple arrangements, mostly acoustic guitar ditties. The album spawned a string of hit singles: “Life of the Party” (double platinum), “Something Big” (platinum), “Stitches” (double platinum), and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” with Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello (platinum).

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Shawn Mendes has just released his followup album, Illuminate, preceded by a couple of singles, most notably “Treat You Better” (platinum). He recently landed on the cover of Billboard magazine, an interview with Larry King, and appearance on U.S. chat show Jimmy Fallon. Illuminate debuted at No. 1 in 65 countries around the world. Music critics seem intent on focusing on lyrics rather than music for younger stars like him which strikes us as odd. Logically, one would think the older recording artists have more to say and more experiences to recount. “More mature” has become an overused cliché that we will avoid. Illuminate is more sophisticated musically than his last effort and we think has smarter writing and arrangements with electric guitars and piano joining the party. The songs are more intricate and more memorable. The sound is bigger, the delivery more natural, thoughtful, and passionate. Though its appeal may find itself igniting the hearts of the youth, the record is one with the musical quality to charm folks of all ages. The lad has talent as five JUNO nominations to date would indicate.

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Shawn’s partners in crime on the album (not that it’s a criminal record) are, in the writing field, primarily Scott Harris and Geoff Warburton, while much of the production was done by Englishman Jake Gosling who has worked with Ed Sheeran and One Direction. The key to superstardom is following up the buzz album (often the debut) with one that is better or at least as good. Such was true of Corey Hart, Madonna, Tears for Fears, and the like. Shawn Mendes appears to have succeeded. Below we embed his latest MV for track “Mercy”.  iTunes