I would like to start off with a few facts:
I am male.
I am 20 years old.
I do not enjoy artists such as Justin Bieber, Cody Simpson, and the rest of the pre-teen girl category.
I give a lot of respect to Shawn Mendes.
As a sixteen-year old, he released his debut album, Handwritten. It’s insane that he got an album produced at 16, let alone the kind of popularity he’s generated. While I won’t say the kind of things I was doing at 16, I can say with confidence that the world does not want to hear it. Now I haven’t done much research, but I assume a kid that puts out a debut album called “Handwritten” wrote most of these tracks. If this is true, I’m thoroughly impressed. Mendes has evidently been through incredible heartbreak and recovery, having learned more lessons than Sesame Street and Bill Nye combined. He’s got some serious heart.
After the album sank in a little more, I began to appreciate the pace. It starts with his first single, “Life of the Party,” followed by the radio-hit “Stitches.” Both songs hint at the overarching, “I-lost-the-one” theme of the album yet leave you with a sense of empowerment. It settles in and reminds me of Sam Smith’s hits, at least before breaking into “Something Big”, his third and final single of the album. This song is gold for Radio Disney but still sparks a little hope in my old, college-drained corpse of a body. “Strings” tells me Shawn is all in on his relationship and I’m fully invested in this kid and his possibly make-believe relationship.
Whatever hope the first half of “Handwritten” provided felt crushed by the second. He drags the listener through a high school break-up that crushed us once before back in the day. While all of them sound about the same, I became reflective and the songs blended together very nicely for the experience. I think he took a page out of The Script’s self-titled album with his own debut.
Overall, I really enjoyed his start. His YouTube comments indicate that girls are already eating him up, so don’t be surprised if he sticks around for a while. He’s got that heartthrob vibe on the surface but stands out with meaningful song-writing abilities. Some songs fall flat, but I’ll give him a couple years to learn. After all, he’s not even done with high school English…
Images from Ameristreamlive