Three long, gruesome years after the massive success of “+,” English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has granted us access to his highly anticipated sophomore album X (cleverly pronounced ‘multiply’) where he displays his versatile style, all the while riding the wave of his first number one hit single “Sing.”
“I’ve been looking for a lover, thought I’d find her in a bottle.” Ed likes to drink. He likes to kiss. He likes to write about the ups and downs of love and life. All of these things are his subjects of choice, but what continues to set him apart is his method of writing lyrical stories, because that’s exactly what his songs are, stories. He challenges himself by exposing his struggles through hypothetical and literal scenarios on songs like “Nina” and “Shirtsleeves.” Ed’s pen skills are only one half of what has made him the megastar he is today.
The other component is his unflawed vocal ability. His accent only adds edge and his range doesn’t reach a peak. Whether he’s in falsetto or his pitch is on simultaneous octaves like on “Afire Love” or even if he’s just humming, which he does on “Bloodstream,” his voice is so sweet, so unique, and so beautiful that it’s rare to have anything negative to say about it. But what’s most unexpected about X is that although Ed Sheeran’s hip-hop appreciation has always been incorporated into his music through catchy rhythmic patterns, he has now turned full tracks into steady flows. He’s fluent in his rhymes over these non-traditional tracks like “The Man” where he spits, “It’s only therapy, my thoughts just get ahead of me. Eventually I’ll be fine I know that it was never meant to be. Either way I guess I’m not prepared, but I’ll say this, these things happen for a reason and you can’t change shit.” He’s nice in both his delivery and creativity.
The overall sound of this album is still acoustically driven, Ed’s signature sound, but with a twist. He brought in legendary super producer Rick Ruben and Benny Blanco on “Don’t” that has subtle drums, and Pharrell Williams, who’s responsible for this shift, produced both “Sing” and “Runaway.” There is always a smooth intro and a prominent outro such as on “I’m A Mess.” Ed has deemed his own music as “acoustic soul” but he continues to push the envelope and it has grown into “acoustic hip pop.”
With X, Ed Sheeran seems to be making the kind of music he wants to make. Being the artist he wants to be, and creating the legacy that he wants to leave. With his innovative mind, the sophomore curse doesn’t exist.
What song from ‘X’ are you putting on repeat?
Let us know in the comments below.
*This review of ‘X’ is based on the 16-track Deluxe Edition.
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