Ed Sheeran has come a long way from singing in his local church choir and writing songs while attending high school in his hometown of Framlingham, England (yes, that’s right – Framingham, with an L).
Sheeran released his highly anticipated third full studio album “÷” (Divide), on March 3, after a year-long hiatus and social media break. The album has topped the charts in the U.K. and U.S.
Sheeran’s music has changed throughout the years from his previous full studio albums “+” (Plus) and “x” (Multiply). Divide is a key example of that change.
He has managed to evolve his sound while keeping the core of his musical fingerprints intact. His indescribable charismatic touch can be felt and heard through this latest album.
His quick, clever raps and soulful heartbreaking lyrical ballads, which were heavily present in his previous works, still hold a place on Divide. But new and different styles shine through among his classic, well-established repertoire.
It’s hard to pin Divide down and fit it into a box. The album falls under the pop genre, but it’s much more than that. Sheeran does a masterful, crazy, and brilliant job in varying styles of song throughout the album, while making it a solid and cohesive piece of work. The album features pop melodies, hip-hop tunes, club music vibes, Irish folk beats, rapping, orchestras and Ghanaian Twi dialect.
Sheeran’s inventiveness radiates through his varying style tracks, while still staying true to his just-an-awkward-guy-with-a-guitar image and sound.
In an interview with Spotify, Sheeran said he had the concept for Divide since 2010. He wanted the album to feel “a bit schizophrenic and each song targeting a different thing by subject-matter-wise and style.”
Sheeran opens his album with the explosive and energetic “Eraser.” It’s a re-introduction of himself to the world. With a strong statement of, “Welcome to the new show / I guess you know I’ve been away,” citing his hiatus, he gives a clear statement that this album isn’t going to be like the others.
The track sends a message about the concept of fame and shows Sheeran’s self-awareness of his own fame.
Sheeran calls out his friends and family who are “Filled with envy when they should be filled with pride.” He does this in the best way he can, through well-crafted verses of ingenious rap and a great chorus.
Sheeran captures the bittersweet feeling of reminiscing over childhood and teenage memories though the masterful pop anthem of “Castle on the Hill.” The song is an ode to his hometown, and one of the strongest on the album.
A true Sheeran album wouldn’t be complete without heartbreaking and gut-wrenching ballads. He delivers with “Supermarket Flowers,” “Dive,” “Perfect,” among others.
“Supermarket Flowers” tells the story of Sheeran’s grandmother’s passing. It’s a sad but real expression of his feelings during that time in his life. It’s touching and sentimental. The track features beautifully performed backing vocals and instrumentals.
With “Dive,” the listener can hear the pain in Sheeran’s voice as he pleads, “Don’t call me baby unless you mean it.” It’s one of the most soulful and raw tracks of the album.
Sheeran admitted in an interview with MTV that he thinks “Perfect” is the best song he has written. The track is heart-melting. It is surely to turn even the most pessimistic person with the bleakest view about love into a hopeless romantic for four minutes and twenty-three seconds.
The deluxe version of Divide runs at about an hour and features 16 tracks. Sheeran is able to divide and conquer different styles in an exquisite way that is sure to touch all listeners.