I think it’s fair to say that this certain red-headed singer/songwriter needs no introduction, because I’m pretty sure that no matter where you live, you’ve heard of Ed Sheeran – unless you’ve been living under a rock, that is.
Nearly three years after the release of his debut offering ‘+’, hotly anticipated follow-up, ‘X’, topped the album charts on both sides of the Atlantic in its first week of release, and earned its self a Brit Award for ‘British Album of the Year’ – and it’s easy to see, or hear, why.
Featuring no less than five hit singles, ‘X’ opens with gentle, acoustic ballad ‘One’. The delicate instrumental, and emotionality of the song conveyed in the vocals and lyrics, really sets the tone for the entire album. The song also brilliantly demonstrates Sheeran’s range, as he flips between his chest and head voice, with beautiful results. Following track ‘I’m a Mess’ picks up the pace a little bit and continues to highlight the incredible power of the vocals.
However, Sheeran quickly proves he isn’t just all about the ballads with tracks like – his first UK number one single – ‘Sing.’ Co-written with and produced by Pharrell Williams, the song demonstrates the Hip-Hop flair seen in previous works like ‘You Need Me I Don’t Need You.’ This vibe also carries throughout the record in numbers such as ‘Runaway’, ‘Don’t’, and ‘Bloodstream,’ alongside his signature acoustic/pop sound.
Lyrically, a prominent theme throughout the album is that of love and relationships – the good and the bad – ranging from family and platonic love, to romance. This is demonstrated in softer tracks like ‘Tenerife Sea’ – with its ‘I’m so in love’ refrain – the dreamy, charming vibe of ‘Thinking Out Loud’ – which Sheeran himself previously pegged as the ‘walking down the aisle’ song – and album closer ‘Afire Love’, a fiercely poignant song detailing his grandfather’s lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease, and the beauty of the love that his grandparents shared.
As a whole ‘X’ is a fantastic album that demonstrates Sheeran’s ability to capture his listeners entirely, not just through his stellar vocals, but through his ability to write amazing songs that have substance and tell a story. There is a good balance of up-tempo tracks and ballads, and every song is packed with emotion and demands your attention. I love the seamless mix of the hip-hop and acoustic sound, and no song disappoints – there are some absolute gems here that need to be heard. I’d recommend it to everyone.
One / Don’t / Nina / Runaway / Afire Love