Album Review: Shawn Mendes’ “Illuminate”

Shawn Mendes has just released his second studio album “Illuminate”, and we absolutely love it! All of the songs are amazing and touching; the album (including the cover art), is a work of art. We have no words to describe how we feel about Illuminate as a whole, but we did have a few words to say about each of the songs.

Track One // Ruin

When we listened to Ruin for the first time, we were immediately sucked in to the rhythm of the song. Hearing that guitar, our thoughts immediately went to John Mayer because that’s the kind of vibe we got. In recent interviews, Shawn has repeatedly stated how much of an impact John’s album “Continuum” had on Illuminate, and we could see that.

The further we got into the song, the more passion started to become more prominent in his voice. After listening to Ruin, we knew that this album was going to be an emotional journey but a great one.

Favourite line: “And do ya, do you remember how we felt?/’Cause I do. So listen to me, baby.

Track Two // Mercy

Listening to Mercy for the first time, we felt as though it was a mixture of Treat You Better and Stitches. Which is great because it’s like a clash of emotions and negative energy put into one song. You can definitely hear the raw emotion and passion in Shawn’s voice, which is something we love hearing.

To go along with his passion and emotion is the meaningful lyrics. He definitely brought this song to life from being written on paper, by pouring his heart and soul out. Those emotions were real, and that was something we could feel as we listened to the song.

Mercy is a great song to jam out to late at night, whether it’s during a car ride or maybe spending time with a friend or group of friends.

Favourite line: “I’m prepared to sacrifice my life/I would gladly do it twice.

Track Three // Treat You Better

Similar to how Mercy sounds like a mixture of Treat You Better and Stitches, Treat You Better sounds a little like Mercy. The exception, is that there are a lot of different aspects between the two songs; one of the key aspects being the meaning behind both songs.

Treat You Better is about Shawn’s perspective on an abusive and domestic relationship, and how he feels useless because he can’t help the girl he’s after. He’s trapped on the inside and forced to watch the effects of this abusive nature take its toll; making the meaning of the song very important. Shawn has used his voice and music to promote awareness against domestic violence.

The tune of the song is also incredibly catchy; it’s a tune you will have stuck in your head for several days, but we’ve never minded it.

Favourite line: “Just know that you don’t/Have to do this alone/Promise I’ll never let you down.

Track Four // Three Empty Words

We fell in love with Three Empty Words the first time we listened to it; you can easily fall in love with this song as well (despite the song’s meaning). You could probably fall asleep to this song or even save this song for rainy days, because this song has that kind of an effect.

The harmonies throughout the song definitely had a huge impact on us falling madly in love with the track. Seriously, they’re such beautiful harmonies it brought tears to our eyes. And that high note at “and I know it’s gonna hurt“, really did it in for us. The song is absolutely beautiful.

Favourite line: “Oh, we’re going through the motions/Cause we can’t fix what’s broken.

Track Five // Don’t Be A Fool

We’re feelin’ the 60s vibes when we listen to Don’t Be A Fool. This song is the most precious song we’ve ever heard, we just love it so much. It just gives us that kind of relaxed and dreamy feeling. The high notes throughout the entire song was definitely a favourite for us; and we’re so in love with the chorus.

This song is definitely meant for slow dancing with that special someone or even to help you fall asleep at night (trust us, it works!).

Favourite line: “Oh I really like you babe/And I wanna be there for you/For the rest of your days.”

Track Six // Like This

We loved how the piano at the beginning of Like This really gets you into the song. Add in the background vocals, the acoustic guitar, and even the lyrics, you can bet it’s going to be a beautiful mixture; the overall concept of the song took our breath away, it’s so beautiful and so important.

We were definitely feelin’ the Alicia Keys vibes with this song!

Favourite line: “And I love it how she’s honest/You don’t find that nowadays/She’s not even drop dead gorgeous/But she kills me anyway.

Track Seven // No Promises

What we love about No Promises is that it kind of sounds like a mixture of Daddy’s Lessons by Beyonce and Ruin, but with a twist and Shawn’s magic touch. The chorus and rhythm of the song are two of our favourites, and when that acoustic guitar comes in with the drums we just melt.

Shawn’s voice and constant use of high notes definitely won us over because seriously, how can you not classify that as one of the most beautiful sounds you have ever heard?

Favourite line: “I’ve never been a fan of heartbreak/So tell me what you want/Take my hands across your body/We don’t have to hold on.

Track Eight // Lights On

Okay, Lights On definitely shows off Shawn’s mature side and we’ll tell you why. If you listen closely to the lyrics, you will find that they’re more of a sexual nature and for a mature audience, which is definitely what he was aiming for.

With age comes maturity right? With Shawn growing up, so do his lyrics and the meaning behind his songs. And let us tell you, the vibe that we feel during the chorus is something that we’re in love with, especially since the theme is so mature.

Favourite line: “Darling I wanna see every inch of you/I get lost in the way you move.”

Track Nine // Honest

Honest = John Mayer + Shawn + Ed Sheeran

In reality, that would be a fire collaboration right? Well we think that if the three of them collaborated, Honest would have been the result. The song displays certain styles from each artist, but that isn’t the reason why this is probably one of our favourite songs on the album.

The vibes are quite amazing, the high notes (again) are killing the game, and the song is perfect for a rainy day or a lazy day. Overall, the song is just absolute magic.

Favourite line: “I swear to God to you, there’s nobody else/You’re gonna say that I’m lying/When I tell you every feeling I felt/Was honest and sincere and that you were different/And when we kissed I felt like back in love.

Track Ten // Patience

Every song on Illuminate has a different vibe and on Patience, we’re kind of feeling the reggae vibes. The song feels as though it’s a result of Shawn meeting up in the studio with One Direction and Justin Bieber, to bang out such an amazing song.

The rhythm, harmonies, and lyrics have definitely won us over; there’s just so much passion in his voice throughout the entire song, it sent serious chills down our spines. We honestly have no words to describe how we feel about this song, because our emotions are everywhere at the moment.

Favourite line: “Ooh, you give me a little taste/Lure me in then you take it from me/Oh, I hate that, I love it cause you’re driving me crazy.

Track Eleven // Bad Reputation

Another one of our favourites on Illuminate is Bad Reputation. This song has got so much soul and so much meaning behind it, the passion and raw emotion (and the high notes…for the last time) in his voice is incredible.

This song is basically a whirlwind of emotions, and it’s honestly crazy how much this song affected us. It deals with insecurities, flaws, both positive and negative emotions; Shawn really caught us off guard with this song. Honestly, we love the song’s concept and meaning. We can’t get over how much passion there is in this song, there’s no questioning it either.

We’re just in love with Bad Reputation.

Favourite line: “And I don’t care what they say about you baby/They don’t know what you’ve been through/And trust me, I could be the one to treat you like a lady/Let me see what’s underneath, all I need is you.”

Track Twelve // Understand

The John Mayer vibes are still here folks!

Understand is also another one of our favourites, and for a ton of reasons. We love the sound, the meaning, the lyrics, the feeling; the entire song is just perfect! It ends off the album with a very happy, satisfied, and relaxing feeling in a way that we can’t even describe. The background vocals are on point (of course), and when those drums came in we couldn’t stop our bodies from moving along with the beat.

Those last two minutes of the song that Shawn took to say something extremely important and life changing, really taught us a lesson.

“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.”

Shawn never fails to amaze us, and he does it in so many different ways, shapes, and forms; it’s incredible.

Favourite line: “And every time I ask myself/Am I turning into someone else?/I’m praying that I don’t forget just who I am.

Track Thirteen (Deluxe) // Hold On

Every track on Illuminate is so meaningful in a lot of different ways. Hold On is not only meaningful, but the song itself is breath-taking. The lyrics to this song are beautiful because they say a lot, and teach a lot.

Hold On is a very touching and motivational song; we strongly advice that you Google the lyrics and just take the time to read every line (between the lines even), because the song itself is a life lesson that everyone can take something from.

Favourite line: “And my dad said ‘Shawn, stay with me/Everything will be alright/I know I haven’t seen you lately/But you’re always on my mind’.

Track Fourteen (Deluxe) // Roses

The thing about Roses is that it’s the one track that made us shed a few genuine tears. Not only are the lyrics sad but you can actually feel the sadness in Shawn’s voice throughout the song which in turn, breaks our hearts because we never want to see him upset.

This song is definitely the song to fall asleep to, or even get lost in if you feel like taking some time for yourself.

Favourite line: “But I got you this rose/And I need to know/Will you let it die or let it grow?

Have you listened to Illuminate yet? What did you think? Let us know by tweeting your thoughts to us @CelebMix.


Written by Ellie Doe-Demosse

I dabble in the world of writing, blogging, and singing and I'm a little bit of a book freak, who has an obsession with poetry. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @elliedoedemosse. Follow me on Tumblr: Business Inquires: