By Caroline Meister
I love Ed Sheeran. I’ve been a huge fan of him ever since he was the songwriter behind my favorite One Direction songs. So, you can imagine my excitement when he announced he would be coming back to the music world after a prolonged hiatus with his new album, Divide.
Divide is more than I could have ever hoped for from Ed. It’s a stunningly honest album, filled with plenty of typical Ed songs to satisfy the average listener as well as some new forays to keep the “Sheerios” (what Ed’s fans call themselves) interested. One of my favorite things about this album is Ed’s foray into his own life, particularly his Irish heritage. After hearing songs like “Galway Girl,” “Supermarket Flowers,” “Nancy Mulligan,” and “Castle On The Hill,” the listener might be able to write a short biography on Sheeran.
Not only does Ed include songs about his roots, he is also historically, linguistically, and musically accurate with songs that discuss actual places. This is evident on songs such as “Barcelona,” in which Ed mentions actual landmarks in Barcelona and speaks in Spanish and “Galway Girl,” which has many Irish instruments featured in the background and foreground. The respect that Ed shows for these countries and his own integrity is incredible to me.
But don’t worry: Ed includes plenty of love songs with lyrics that will make you feel like your heart is being ripped apart and stomped on a few dozen times. Personally, the most gut-wrenching love songs on the album are “Happier” and “Save Myself.” So, if you want a good cry, I’d recommend those two. “Perfect” and “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here” are two of the love songs that are perhaps the most stereotypically Ed, the songs that people will want to play as their first dance at their wedding. These weren’t my favorite simply because they just didn’t impress me.
Besides the simple genres of the songs, Ed incorporates a new level of instrumentation that is unusual for him. Typically, Ed is very solitary, playing acoustic guitar and using a loop pedal to record his own backing vocals. However, on this album, Ed includes the sounds of brass on the song “Dive,” incorporating jazzier aspects. The use of an orchestra is present in almost all the songs, which is always nice to hear. Perhaps my favorite is the use of less typical instruments, such as the flute on the song “Barcelona.”
Ed Sheeran is not all love songs and tales of his childhood though. He also tackles the world of Hollywood with songs like “New Man” and “What Do I Know?”, poking fun at the ridiculousness that Hollywood sometimes is. “New Man” is shockingly hilarious, definitely something you would never expect from Ed, and it’s amazing. “New Man” and “Eraser” are the two songs on the album that showcase Ed’s spoken word/rapping talents, as if he couldn’t prove to be even more talented.
Overall, Divide showcases the extreme versatility, dedication, and musicality of Edward Sheeran. He is one of the best mainstream artists of this generation without a doubt. My favorite songs off the album, in no particular order, are: “Happier,” “Save Myself,” “New Man,” and “Galway Girl.”