After his one year sabbatical from the internet, Ed Sheeran is back with a 16 track album. Up next in the math chain we have Divide. Prior to that, it was Multiply and Plus. Not bad math skills for a guy who’s “never been to Uni”- Eraser. On December 13th 2015, Ed posted a photo on Instagram announcing that he was taking a break from email and all social media. He said he was tired of being glued to his phone all the time and was missing out on experiencing real life. Exactly a year later on December 13th 2016, he returned to the internet and began hinting at new music. I imagine that he took this year to go travel and see the world without the rush and hurry of touring. I bet it gave him a chance to slow down and write songs. I am feeling that my suspicions were correct. I can tell traveling has influenced his music because later in the album there are a few latin style songs. It is a rather lengthy album with no collaborating artists. I feel that it is Ed bringing back creative control and making a statement. Not that he was controlled by others while making his music but he did work with a lot of pop producers on his last album Multiply.
The first song on the album is “Eraser”. Ed kicks it off with diving straight into reflection on the reality of his life and chasing his dreams. He states that he is well aware of vices that can often throw artists at his level off the deep end. He is honest about not having a traditional 9-5 job or having a university degree but being happy with his situation.
I enjoyed the way the guitars were recorded. These days everyone is trying to get the biggest, cleanest sound with their recordings. His sound like they were recorded from far away and I think it was an intentional move because it added a raw vibe to the music.
It wouldn’t be a true Ed Sheeran record without a few tearjerkers and love songs that force you to reflect on your love life. For me they were “Supermarket Flowers” and “Happier”. “Perfect” pulls you right into the story except your mind thinks about your own love instead of his. The singing and production style on “Dive” is reminiscent of “Dark Times”, a collaboration Ed Sheeran did with The Weeknd for The Weeknd’s 2015 release, “Beauty Behind The Madness”.
There are also cool fictional story songs like “Nancy Mulligan” where Ed describes how he married a lady named Nancy in his home country and how they had 8 kids and grew old together. I love the way he can make up songs that you know are not factually true to his circumstances but he can sing them like they are. A song with a similar Irish foot stomp flavor is “Galway Girl”, where he talked about meeting a girl who played violin in an Irish band. What’s cool is that when he says it you can hear a fiddle in the background throughout the song to match the lyrics.
I have loved Ed Sheeran for awhile and saw him in concert a few years ago. In my opinion his performance skills trumps many new artists today. It was the most emotional and powerful concert I’ve ever seen to date, and it was only him and a loop pedal. From being homeless at age 16 in London playing 300 shows a year to the top of the charts, whether you like his music or not, be on the lookout for Ed. I am convinced that he will be around for a long time.