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The Daily Wildcat

 

Review: Ed Sheeran showcases diverse array of talent and emotion with new album ‘÷’

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British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran achieved international fame with his 2011 debut album +, he’s got that boyish charm and ginger red hair, of course. Then, he expanded upon that fame with sophomore effort x in 2014.

Where many musicians have come and gone, Sheeran refuses to do so, relentlessly making his way to the tippy top of the musical stratosphere with no evident signs of slowing down. Now, his fame will expand even further with third album ÷, released Friday.

For all intents and purposes, Ed Sheeran has done it again, making Sheerios around the world jump for joy while also reminding listeners just how much fun basic mathematical operations can be. Sheeran has already become one of the biggest musical stars in the world, and he will only continue to blow up with his latest release. He performed live here in Tucson at the Rialto Theatre back in 2013. Let’s just say it seems doubtful that he will return to such a small venue anytime soon.

RELATED: Review: New album ‘I See You’ expands the sound of The xx

With this new record, Sheeran takes a vastly varied approach resulting in a multitude of songs that all sound quite different. Consistency is not the name of the game on this record, and as a result, every fan should find something to enjoy. The diversity of each song does not reach the height of something like last year’s Awaken, My Love! by Childish Gambino, where every single song sounds like someone different is singing it, even though Gambino was actually singing each one. With ÷, many of the tracks do sound different, but at least you can always tell that Sheeran is the one on vocals.

Sheeran kicks things off with album opener “Eraser,” a fast-moving and catchy meditation on fame and how dangerous it can be which allows Sheeran to show off his chops as a rapper. It starts the album off on a high note and will make listeners wonder if the primary theme of the album will be Sheeran’s meditations on the dangers of fame. Spoiler alert: this turns out to not be true; every single song on the record seems to have its own themes, meanings and ideas.

Sheeran gives listeners more of the quiet, heart-wrenching songs that many fans have come to associate him with through tracks like “Dive,” “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here,” and the far superior “Happier,” a quiet, thoughtful meditation on moving on after the end of a relationship. Just about every listener’s heart should break a little bit when they listen to “Supermarket Flowers,” a song that Sheeran wrote about his grandmother, who recently passed away while he was working on the album. Wow Ed, you really know how to get us.

He provides several of these quiet, soulful ballads for listeners to enjoy, but is also not afraid whatsoever to take risks with his work; a sign of a true artist. One of the album’s most surprising songs is “Galway Girl,” an electric fast-tempo dance track infused with Irish music influences that makes for one of the catchiest songs on the record from the very first lyric: “She played the fiddle in an Irish band but she fell in love with an English man.” It’s good stuff.

With this new record, Sheeran is able to provide songs with different styles and different musical influences, resulting in something that will appeal to many different listeners in some way while also making them smile, laugh, dance and cry all while traveling through the same musical work.

÷ is a work of musical art and ability that showcases Sheeran’s vast array of talent while simultaneously pleasing fans of many different genres, further showing Sheeran’s worth as one of the best stars working in music today.

RELATED: Review: Childish Gambino goes in new, weird direction with ‘Awaken, My Love!’

Nice job Ed, you’ve done it again.

Grade: A


Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter


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