Ed Sheeran has deprived the world of a sophomore album for almost two years. For fans of the ginger acoustic genius, that wait has seemed like an eternity. His first album, “+” had a more acoustic, softer theme throughout. When it came to this album, Sheeran wanted to go in a different direction. When he was in the process of writing the first album, he was seventeen years old, and with “x” (pronounced “multiply”), he was twenty-two, so he approached the album with entirely new techniques, and a new found level of maturity. In the process of writing this album, Sheeran has taken giant steps forward in the music scene, landing spots on two major movie soundtracks (“I See Fire” for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “All Of The Stars” for “The Fault in Our Stars”); was nominated for two Grammys; and hosted a sprawl of pop-up concerts just to name a few. Along the way he has made a few famous friends, but what’s fantastic about this guy is that he doesn’t use these names to define who he is as an artist. Ed Sheeran proves with his sophomore album that an artist can mature their sound in all of the right ways.
Leading up to the release of this album, MTV did a documentary entitled “9 Days of Ed Sheeran” which followed Ed on his promotional tour of “x.” Let me just say, this was the perfect insight into the man behind the music. He described how fans ask him all of the time if he has written music dedicated to him or anyone specific, and his answer was so honestly perfect. He went on to say that all of his music “was for him, written out of his own feelings.” As a fan, I would much rather know that these songs were 100% from the bottom of his heart concerning feelings of his own, rather than looking around for inspiration.
What’s interesting about this album is that there is a noticeable presence of production on the songs, but there wasn’t a track that it did not work in the favor of. It’s fascinating to see the emotions unravel as the album flows so beautifully. The songs range from gentle, emotionally delicate, acoustic songs about love or heartbreak, but they can also describe the drunken, no-strings-attached one night stands in a more R&B-esque manner. Either way, Ed seriously knows how to pull together a track. When I found out that Pharrell was one of the production forces behind this album, I thought it was too perfect. In the grand scheme of things, there could not be a better pairing. Ed Sheeran wanted to surprise his fans with something new, something in a different direction, and he pulled it off beautifully.
Sheeran’s summer and fall are completely hectic. Throughout this summer, he will be making many festival appearances and once the fall rolls around, he will be filling arenas both in the United States and Europe. I have had the pleasure of seeing Ed perform live twice, once in an arena opening for Taylor Swift, and then prior to that in a smaller venue where I actually had the opportunity to meet him after the show. I can honestly say Ed Sheeran is one of the most humble, yet overall entertaining musicians I have seen in a long while. The fact that he can stand on a stage with just a guitar and loop pedal and have an entire audience in a trance for two hours is beyond phenomenal. Just one year ago this man was filling music venues and now he’s moving onto actual arenas, and it’s fantastic to see such a unique talent having this immense level of success. On top of his own music, Ed writes for other musicians (i.e. Taylor Swift and One Direction), so it’s safe to say that this guy is going to be around for a while, and boy am I thankful for that.
“I’m A Mess”– There is an immense amount of emotion behind this song, and lyrically it is definitely one of the strongest on the album with lines such as “See the flames inside my eyes/ It burns so bright, I want to feel your love.”
“Thinking Out Loud”– A slower track, but one which expresses selfless love. “When your legs don’t work like they used to before and I can’t sweep you off of your feet/Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?/ Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?” Sheeran had some unique love songs on his first album, but this is one of his best.
“The Man”- On the opposite end of the spectrum, this track is bitter in all of the right ways. The disgust and hurt behind his lyrics are so perfectly rapped over a back track.