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Track Review

Life can be overwhelming. But if we can just take a deep breath, be honest with ourselves and with the friends who love us, it's probably going to be OK.

That's the upbeat message on "A Little Too Much," one of the breakthrough tracks from 16-year-old Canadian singer Shawn Mendes. Like fellow Canuck Justin Bieber, Shawn made his initial musical mark online, then got discovered by a major record label. While Justin did it via YouTube, Shawn's fame stems largely from six-second covers of popular songs on his Vine page. These mini-videos have snagged 3.7 million followers who've collectively "looped" Shawn's song snippets nearly 300 million times.

Shawn's clearly cultivated the same kind of emotive, boy-next-door, aww-shucks appeal that initially propelled Bieber to global superstardom. Here, sporting only an acoustic guitar (later joined by a gentle piano line), Shawn tells us the tale of a stoic girl who's just about at the end of her rope, but who's eventually able to accept a friend's help.

"She would not show that she was afraid," Shawn says as he begins her story. "But being and feeling alone was too much to face." Outwardly she seemed to be doing OK ("Everyone said that she was so strong"), but her brave persona cloaked inner turmoil just beneath the surface ("What they didn't know is that she could barely carry on").

The chorus focuses on her determination to make it on her own, and her insistence that she can do so ("But she knew that she would be OK/So she didn't let it get in the way"). It also reminds listeners to keep looking for every cloud's silver lining ("But you got a realize that soon the fog will clear up"). Then Shawn affirms the reality that everyone feels overwhelmed sometimes ("And you don't have to be afraid, because we're all the same/And we know that sometimes it all gets a little too much").

In the second verse, a friend shows up to offer a helping hand, coaxing this stubbornly independent gal into taking it. "She would use no help, it would be just fine," Mendes reports. "But when it got hard she would lose her focus/So take my hand and we'll be alright/And she knew that it would be OK/So she didn't let it get in her way."

It's good to keep a stiff upper lip during the storms of life. But it's also good to let friends hoist us out of emotionally dark places when we need a boost. So "A Little Too Much" is a wise and winsome word from this (still earnest and endearing) up-and-comer.

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An iTunes Top 10 track.

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February 2, 2015

On Video

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Adam R. Holz

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