Keely Chisolm ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Ed Sheeran is a British singer-songwriter currently based in London. His first album, +, was released in 2011; X is his second full-length album. Sheeran’s collaborations with Taylor Swift and One Direction, among others, have helped establish him and push his name into the industry.
X, overall, had a soft, very acoustic tone. On this second record, now, Sheeran establishes himself as a self-proclaimed “singer with flow,” more than just a singer with a guitar. The sound breaks out of the coffeehouse-singer ease of the first album.
The shift in sound comes with the third track, “Sing.” Prior to this point, the first two tracks, “One” and “I’m A Mess,” were reminiscent of the acoustic tones that pervaded X. On this track, and the two following, spoken word (as heard in the previous album’s “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”) takes on a greater role in the music.
“Photograph” returns to the Sheeran we are familiar with, sounding similar to X’s “Kiss Me.” “Bloodstream” and “Tenerife Sea” follow in the same vein. “Runaway” breaks up the lull with a peppier beat, but the ninth track, titled “The Man,” brings in an almost hip-hop type of sound. The verses, spoken quickly and precisely, showcase the “flow” that he means when he calls himself a “singer with flow.” The track has a bluesy feel, especially when the chorus begins. “Afire Love” opens with soft strings before the beat kicks in and Sheeran’s vocals keep the final song on the album from becoming too dreary.
The deluxe version of the album comes with four bonus tracks: “Take It Back,” “Shirtsleeves,” “Even My Dad Does Sometimes,” and “I See Fire.” Listeners might recognize “I See Fire” from the soundtrack of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The bonus tracks are worth the extra few dollars those who want to spend it; nothing new is brought to the table, but dedicated will enjoy them.
Lyrically, the album is characteristically Ed Sheeran, filled with witticisms, clever rhymes, and stories of love, loss, and life. Sheeran comments yet again on life in the music industry, most notably in “Don’t” and “The Man.” His knack for the romantic gets showcased in “Photograph”, “Tenerife Sea”, and “Thinking Out Loud,” which may remind fans of the sweetness of “Lego House.” Sheeran gets inspirational on “Even My Dad Does Sometimes,” reminding the subject of the song to hold on to being alive.
Overall, though some of the songs take on a new sound and showcase what might be called an alter ego, the changes are not dramatic enough to drive away previous fans. There are tracks here for everyone, old and new listeners alike. Sheeran will be returning to tour in the U.S. in late August after playing shows in Europe.