Shawn Mendes: 'Wonder'
Shawn has returned with a new single, “Wonder”, the title-track for his soon to be released album. It is no hidden secret that Shawn has a high status within the music industry of today, which has been led by his proclaimed self-titled album in 2018. Two years later he has returned for a new chapter in his music career, and the young Canadian has announced that his new album “Wonder” will be out on the fourth of December.
In a conversation with Jessica Wang from Bustle, Shawn mentioned "real strength does lie inside of being emotional and being vulnerable." This idea of strength coinciding with emotion is cleverly modelled within the music. The unique layering of synths and heartbeat like drums provides the perfect introduction to his first words “I wonder”. Mendes has created a soulful song that successfully emulates the idea of him struggling to convey his emotions.
It is clear that the use of inspiration was not lacking, as besides artistic influences he draws upon work of his own. Billboard editor Katie Atkinson described the chorus as “reminiscent of Kings of Leon or U2”. This does not seem a far-fetched thought as in an included interview with Billboard’s Kevan Kenney, Shawn described Kings of Leon to be an influence for 2018 album. The momentous chorus is in keeping with his previous comeback track ‘In My Blood’ that shows raw emotions as well as the internal struggle that he came to share with the world. The song is inspiring, as Shawn doesn’t stray away from his roots. After years of being shelled up he uses his warm vocals to express his true self. He asks:
I wonder, when I cry into my hands, I’m conditioned to feel like it makes me less of a man.
His theme of self-discovery comes together in the chorus as Mendes displays his impressive vocal range and control. The song is rich with uplifting gospel-like inflections and a euphoric instrumental section. It immediately lets you imagine the atmosphere that would be created in a full stadium of fans, something they will hope for in the near future.
Amongst the creative production of the music, the one potentially negative aspect is that the lyrics are somewhat repetitive. When looking at Shawn’s previous song lyrics he tends to stick with a conventional style that highlights certain lyrics with a careful balance of the others. In one way this repetition could be seen as his first port of call to make a statement, in which case it definitely serves its purpose and fits well with the song. The combination of a choral background, a steady pulse and careful dynamic lines balances the lyrics, making this feature of repetition not such a bad thing.
With each album Shawn does seem to experiment with different styles and “Wonder” sees him take a new perspective rather than focus on his stereotypical theme of love. His 2015 acoustic-based debut album Handwritten developed into a pop focused second album and we are yet to see where this new album takes us. This is a perfect way to set the stage for a hopefully new and exciting phase in his career.