This is not an acoustic album. This is not a rap album. There are elements of both on it, however, making for very interesting listening. After taking time off in 2016, Ed Sheeran is back with a pretty serious bang: in the week of its release, all 16 of his new album’s tracks were in the UK singles chart’s top 20, and Ed made history by being the first musician ever to have a track in nine of the top 10 slots.
÷ kicks off with Eraser which finds Ed rapping over an acoustic guitar-led band and deals with the star’s issues with fame and fortune. This is swiftly followed by one of two singles released off the album thus far: Castle on the Hill is an ode to Framlingham in Suffolk, Ed’s hometown. It’s a song that has the feeling of a summer anthem, except it’s been released in March. It’s a real sing-along number and sure to be one of the highlights of the upcoming tour.
The second single, Shape of You, follows the slow-paced, soulful Dive, and has more than a hint of samba-laden groove about it. It’s a dance track that will be played in clubs nationwide for months to come.
The rest of the album’s highlights include the love song Perfect (listen out for it at any weddings you go to this year), the Spanish guitar-inspired Barcelona (another summer anthem), the fast-paced Bibia Be Ye Ye and the bouncy What Do I Know? The stand-out track is Nancy Mulligan though. It’s a fun, folksy romp with a gang chorus sing-along that deals with an archetypal story of forbidden love.
Ed’s legions of fans are sure to love this new offering as there’s plenty of what blasted Ed to fame on show here. For those who haven’t heard too much of his music over the past few years (how have you managed that?), this album showcases numerous sides to Ed Sheeran: bouncy pop tunes, heartfelt ballads and impressive musicianship.
If you’ve managed to score tickets for his upcoming shows in Newcastle: very well done. You’re in for a night of sing-along tunes and tender ballads – enjoy.
÷ is available now. Ed Sheeran will be playing at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on 19 and 20 April. For more information, visit www.edsheeran.com