Happy March 3rd one and all, I’ve been awake for approximately an hour and a half and my morning has been made by the one and the only Ed Sheeran and his new album ÷.
I think this is absolutely the best album Sheeran has ever produced, and the other two (+, x) were phenomenal. I don’t know what theory you have for Sheeran’s absence, publicity move or no it seems to have been the best choice. If every artist took a year out and then produced an album as amazing as this – well the music industry would be a whole lot more amazing.
I, of course, bought the deluxe version of the album (which I do think is a bit of a con by music companies, just give me all the songs, I’ve earned them) so I’ll run through the album track by track like I did with my post about Lucy Spraggan’s I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing earlier in the week, but remember that the standard album ends at song #12 Supermarket Flowers, the last four songs will cost you an extra £2 (or however many dollars). I’d say it’s definitely worth it, they’re some of the catchiest songs on the album.
Ed actually released this song a little bit early in a video he did with SBTV so this wasn’t my first listen. The album opens with this rap/spoken word piece/song that we’ve all come to know him for, there’s at least one on every album. They’re a bit marmite-y, you’re either really on board with them or you skip them every time. This song is about fame, it’s a sort of explanation for what’s been going on with Ed in his year away from social media, it’s touching base and setting you up for the ride.
I used to think that nothing could be better than touring the world with my songs
I chased the pictured perfect life, I think they painted it wrong
I think that money is the root of evil and fame is hell
Relationships and hearts you fixed, they break as well
That gives you a bit of an indication. It kind of reminds me of Take it Back Now from X in theme, but I like the chorus a lot more.
#2 Castle on the Hill
I’m not going to dwell on this since I’ve been frothing about it for 3 weeks or so, this song is a great continuation from Eraser, both touch on youth, on change and on growing up. It’s epic, it’s stadium, its…a great song.
So don’t call me baby
Unless you mean it
Don’t tell me you need me
If you don’t believe it
So let me know the truth
Before I dive right into you
That’s what this song is. It’s not a love song per say, it’s more of a ‘Would it be ok to fall in love?’ song. It’s a slower song which is welcome after the epic nature of Castle on a hill. this album is named ÷ and the diverse nature of the songs definitely echo that theme.
#4 Shape of You
Again, I won’t rest on this too long since we all know this is the most stuck in your head song possible after hearing it once. I will flag up the Walk Off The Earth version which is phenomenal and involves a split kick onto cymbals.
Don’t mistake me, I love this song, but I can’t listen to it without thinking about the song from Glee ‘As Long as You’re There’ Ft. Charice. They have a similar melody, though not identical, and they have very different themes. It’s in 3/4 and it just makes me want to waltz around the room with someone I love.
#6 Galway Girl
We’re now firmly in the segment of the album I would like to call ‘Love song Lane.’ Galway Girl is a semi-folk semi-pop song with the interesting addition of a violin line. This song pairs quite nicely with Nancy Mulligan (which we’ll get to later) but it’s a nice song about Ed falling for an Irish girl.
She played the fiddle in an Irish band
But she fell in love with an English man
Kissed her on the neck and then I took her by the hand
Said, “Baby, I just want to dance”
It’s all gone wrong! Ed’s seeing his girl with another man!
‘Cause baby you look happier, you do
My friends told me one day I’ll feel it too
And until then I’ll smile to hide the truth
But I know I was happier with you
This is a slow song, it’s a Sheeran classic. It’s a break up, sob into your bowl of ice cream, angsty song that you just know is going to make people cry the world over.
#8 New Man
Was the alternative title to this song possible ‘Your New Man is a Douchebag and I’ll tell You All the Ways’? It’s a nice angry counterpoint to Happier, a more aggressive break up song, making poor choices because you were way better! Ed’s talking about this on BBC radio as I speak and he seems in good humour about it which is good, because otherwise this would seem petty as hell.
#9 Hearts Don’t Break Around Here
I’m 99% sure this is about Ed’s current girlfriend ‘the love of his life’. That kind of affection floods this song.
I feel safe when you’re holding me near
Love the way that you conquer your fear
You know hearts don’t break around here
Isn’t that a lovely lyric? That’s what I got most from this song, while he’s not afraid to have a simplistic style, Ed’s words are always impeccably chosen.
#10 What Do I Know?
What’s this? A comment on the music industry being money grabbing and how Sheeran just wants to play songs but he’s also aware that’s a fairly naive attitude? YES PLEASE. In theme this actually feels like it draws from the same attitudes as Frank Turner.
We could change this whole world with a piano
Add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat
And away we go
See what I mean? This is a song I can get on board with, even though I have no ties whatsoever to the music industry.
#11 How Would You Feel (Paean)
If you want to hear how much I love this song you can check out my previous review. Also you should listen to the version he did today on BBC Radio 2, it’s superb.
#12 Supermarket Flowers
This album undeniably has a lot of Ed’s family in it, this song particularly. Ed apparently wrote the song about his Grandmother who recently passed away *sobs*. But the song is stunning, the title alone is so evocative and so…pure. Give it a listen and have a box of tissues ready.
So I’ll sing Hallelujah
You were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you’d be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go
And when God takes you back we’ll say Hallelujah
This is also the final song on the standard-length album, ending on this tribute to his Grandmother is a testament to the personal nature of this album. Ed’s written for himself, but these are themes we can all get on board with, they affect us all. We end on a sad note, but there’s hope there, and that’s really what it’s all about.
But then we get to the deluxe tracks! Kicking it off with a song that I could dance to for about 15 hours and still not be tired out. Barcelona has lyrics in Spanish it has a killer beat and it’s basically about having a good time. What, I ask you, what is not to like?
#14 Bibia Be Ye Ye
Ed spent a lot of time in Ghana while writing this album and I think it’s influence can be seen here. Bibia Be Ye Ye apparently translates to ‘all will be well’. Another uplifting song about hope, it’s a theme Sheeran seems to enjoy. It’s also another really catchy song that I hope not too many people cover because I don’t want to spoil the original – please?
#15 Nancy Mulligan
Ok my not-so-secret shame is my passion for Folk or Folk-esque music. This song certainly fits into this category. It’s about Ed’s grandparents and how they fell in love. It’s fun, it’s funny and its personal and story based. This ticks almost every box I could possibly have (that sounded dirtier than I wanted it to).
#16 Save Yourself
So here we are at the end of the deluxe album. It’s a slow song to close the album, the kind of thing you want to lift up lighter and waft it around in the air in an emotional manner.
Life can get you down so I just numb the way it feels
I drown it with a drink and out of date prescription pills
And all the ones that love me they just left me on the shelf
So before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself
So we close on another personal note, again somewhat bittersweet, it’s hope and it’s despair entwined in the nuanced way that Sheeran excels in.
So final thoughts? This is possibly my favourite album of 2017 (so far), worth all of the hype, worth buying the deluxe edition, worth the 2 hours it’s taken me to write this review because I had to edit out all the parts where I was just typing in all capps and using the word amazing too much.
So far my dream wedding bands are The Vassar Devils and Ed Sheeran…where will I be by September? They’re not all going to fit!