- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 22 March 2017
- Written by AYSE YASAS | STAFF WRITER
After a year-long break, Ed Sheeran made a comeback with Divide, which dropped March 4. Since his 2014 release of X, Sheeran has accomplished a lot, including winning two Grammy’s. He has become one of the most popular male artists in the industry and has worked with big names like Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and One Direction. His fans were impatiently waiting for any of his new material and he came back with one of his best works yet.
The highly-anticipated album ÷ (Divide) was named the best-selling album on 2017 within its first week of being released. This record is definitely different from his previous records because of its diversity. Each track individually unique, which makes sense with the album title being Divide.
With “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape of You” being the two singles, it was just a preview of how different each song would be. “Castle on the Hill” takes you back to the English countryside in Suffolk where Sheeran grew up with an incredibly catchy chorus, and “Shape of You” is perfect for pop radio with its fun and dance-y beat; it was originally intended to be written for Rihanna.
The first track on the album is “Eraser,” where Sheeran raps and speaks about his struggles with fame and success. It has a darker feel about the problems that he has faced while making his way to the top of the charts. Another song with rapping is “New Man” which is more light-hearted, and is reminiscent of Sheeran’s previous hit, “Don’t.” The song is all about an ex’s new man that makes you cringe; you can’t help but laugh at the lyrics.
One of my personal favorites, “Dive,” has a classic guitar feel with an emotional, raw chorus that will have you belting along the words as loud as your vocal chords allow. It’s all about the hesitation when it comes to falling for someone new. A little fun fact about this track is that Eric Clapton plays guitar on it while being credited under the name Angelo Mysterioso, which was previously done by Clapton and George Harrison.
“Happier” is all about unrequited love. It shares the story of seeing an old flame with a new partner and realizing how much happier they are without you. It’s heartbreaking and it reminds me of every movie without a happy ending but rather a more realistic one.
A true story and tear jerker, “Supermarket Flowers” is the song that will make you cry unless you have a heart that is cold as ice. Writing from his mother’s perspective, he talks about the experience losing his grandmother. The simple, yet detailed lyrics just tug at your heartstrings when he talks about cleaning out the hospital room of all of his loved one’s belongings.
While Sheeran was taking his yearlong break, a lot went on in the world of politics. “What Do I Know?” is his take on how the world can change with the power of music, love and positivity. He also mentions how his father told him not to get involved with “politics, religion and other people’s quarrels.” So this is his very light take on the subject but in the end questioning whether his opinion is valid or not.
The next single, which was announced on St. Patrick’s Day, “Galway Girl” is influenced by Irish folk music with a bit of hip-hop which is something that is a bit unexpected, but it works rather well. “Nancy Mulligan,” a bonus track, also has Irish influence and it’s all about the Romeo and Juliet-esque story of his grandparents getting married.
Ireland isn’t the only country that gets a shout out though. “Barcelona” is fairly self-explanatory with its influence coming from Spanish-sounding guitar melodies. It even ends with quite a bit of Spanish lyrics. “Bibia Be Ye Ye” was written while Sheeran was away in Ghana with an artist that is based there. Listening to both of these tracks, it might make you feel like you’re away on vacation for about six minutes.
Perhaps Sheeran’s most famous song before this record was the romantic “Thinking Out Loud,” which even won him his Grammy’s last year in 2016. He didn’t disappoint with songs that will make your heart melt like “Perfect” “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here” and “How Would You Feel.” It’s clear that they’re all influenced by his blossoming relationship with his childhood friend, Cherry Seaborn, who he reconnected with through a mutual friend. “Perfect” can easily be a bigger follow up to “Thinking Out Loud” and it might be what people expect from him. It’s not hard to imagine it being played at several upcoming weddings within the next few years as couples have their first dance. John Mayer also plays the guitar solo on “How Would You Feel.”
The album comes to an end with bonus track “Save Myself” which somewhat makes you feel concerned for Ed’s well-being. For anyone going through personal struggles, it’ll be easy to relate. It’s raw and real which makes it so tragically beautiful. It’s refreshing to listen to an artist share so much of their lives through their music even when it comes to more difficult topics.
Overall, this record has exceeded my expectations and was well worth the wait. The influence of Sheeran’s roots is present and it only makes sense with him taking a step back from the music industry to go back home and remember where he grew up and came from. While a few songs might be what you expect from him, this album went places that are new and different from anything that Ed has ever done before. It shows his growth as an artist and his dabbling into different genres like hip-hop and folk music while still remaining mostly pop. His willingness to take risks and challenge himself sets him apart and continues to help him reach the top of the charts.
IMAGE TAKEN from www.idolator.com