Ed Sheeran’s greatest attributes come together for new album


Album: Divide

Artist: Ed Sheeran

Label: Asylum Records UK / Atlantic Records

Release Date: March 3

Grade: B+

Ed Sheeran’s musical hiatus felt like centuries long to fans.

The English singer and songwriter released a record in 2013, toured, then took some time off of social media. His time off certainly payed off.

Sheeran’s newest release, Divide, is a well-arranged and unique collection of tracks which showcase the artist’s masterful songwriting.

Divide brings together addictive acoustic rap, beautiful ballads, and culturally diverse tracks, and does so tastefully.

With all sorts of diversity on this record, one simplistic track finds a way to stick out.

“Dive” brings out the bluesy side of Sheeran.

He sings of the fear of being lead on by the woman he’s in love with, while his strained and passionate vocal runs prove to be the song’s driving force. Sheeran perfectly ties the song together by throwing in a short and sincere guitar solo.

Sincerity is a reoccurring theme in Divide, as Sheeran opens up about his personal life.

“Supermarket Flowers,” arguably one of the most emotional tracks off the album, will bring any listener to tears.

The song is a tribute to Ed’s grandmother, who recently passed away, and is written from the perspective of his mother.

The name of the album, Divide, suits its content quite well.

Ed’s heart-warming songs are matched equally with upbeat acoustic-pop songs. The album’s most humorous cut, “New Man,” is an ode to the lover of Sheeran’s ex.

The songwriter mocks his ex’s new boyfriend, and includes every embarrassing attribute that he can think of.

Sheeran calls the new boyfriend’s “man bag” a purse, brings up the fact that he makes gang signs during rap songs, and laughs about how he wears sunglasses indoors.

Another notable acoustic-pop cut, “What Do I Know?” is the most socially-conscious track on the album.

“What Do I Know?” is Ed’s way of expressing that love can solve just about anything. Sheeran is aware of the world’s misfortunes and uses this song as a catalyst to teach love. This easy going acoustic track features catchy melodic humming, as Ed sings “Love Can Change the world in a moment, but what do I know.”

The album’s lead single, “Shape of You,” shows up early in the track list. The smash hit, which has caught the radio by storm, is the epitome of fun and catchy pop music with unique instrumentation.

Sheeran’s album doesn’t fail to showcase diversity outside of just ballads and acoustic pop.

The album contains a few genre diverse and culturally diverse tracks.

“Barcelona” follows the same format of Sheeran’s other pop-like cuts, but strays away in many ways.

The song features a short yet exciting saxophone feature toward the end of the track, as Ed throws in some Spanish phrases. The track is different from what has been heard from the singer in the past, but helps morph Divide in the diverse collection of music that it is.

“Nancy Mulligan” is another tune which plays in with the album’s diversity. The song is a gutsy Irish track that gets listeners ready to dance with the melodic fiddle solo in the background.

Sheeran showcases his family’s heritage as he speaks about the love of Mulligan and William Sheeran. The end of the track is fun and laced with clapping; something that would be matched with an Irish jig.

Ed closes Divide with “Save Myself,” a song about making sacrifices.

The song brings infuses strings, piano and vocals to promote self-love. Sheeran makes the song as beautifully honest as he could.

Divide has shown Ed Sheeran to be a man capable of it all. He is a soulful vocalist, instrumentalist and songwriter.

The album may fall flat on occasion, but overall, it’s a special and diverse mix of acoustic love songs.

Brenton J. Blanchet is an arts staff writer and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com