Tuesday, 24 June 2014
x: Ed Sheeran - review
I've loved Ed Sheeran for a number of years now and I'm so glad that his second album has finally been released. With songs being released one by one via iTunes over the past few weeks, I'm so glad that I can listen to them all now. This album is without a doubt one of the most anticipated releases of this year and it has certainly lived up to its expectations.
After hearing 'Sing' I was left to wonder whether this album was heading for a different sort of sound, but evidently, Ed has stayed true to his individual artistic style, continuing to avoid conforming to any expected conventions of 'pop' music and rather just doing his own thing, which still works wonderfully.
The name of the album, x, or 'multiply,' continues the theme of a symbol rather than a number (as with +/'plus'). It also indicates his progression, with plus having shown his steady growth and multiply suggesting how his career has grown incredibly rapidly over the past few years (that's how I see it anyway, I'm not sure if there's an actual meaning behind the titles).
The album was released yesterday (23rd June) and has been sitting pretty at the top of the iTunes chart, as I'm sure it will continue to do.
Here's what I think of it.
It makes a lot of sense that this song is track number one on the album, as indicated by it's name. I think having had Give My Love/Parting Glass as the concluding song(s) on plus, this song really feels like the next part moving on from there. It just sounds like the song that would naturally follow on in my opinion. It's utterly stunning, as anyone would expect from Ed, and yet it's the type of beautiful that breaks your heart. I've mentioned many a time that ballads are the type of song that get my heart the most and this is really one of those darn ballads. The honesty in all of Ed's lyrics is always the thing that strikes me the most; you can tell in his voice that the song is personal and that really brings out the meaning and allows the song to have its full impact. The perfect way to start the album.
I'm a Mess
What a title. I wanted to hear this song a lot after initially reading the track list just to see in what kind of a way the title would be brought out in the lyrics. It's a relationship-y song instead of an entirely personal one (I'd probably have related to it more if it was more individualistic), but it makes a lot of sense. To me I see it as a song to someone who has been there whilst someone else is a mess and doesn't tire of their behaviour, because ultimately they just want to help the person, and maybe show them that love won't always leave things in a mess. 'For tonight I wanna fall in love' is a very lustful lyric, seemingly indicating a temporary love, perhaps to forget about the last time love etched their life. I love how Ed often really powers through ballads and this is one of those songs that's really strongly driven.
When I first heard sing I literally thought it could've been a Justin Timberlake song. That said I wasn't that sure if it really suited Ed's style to begin with, but after listening to it again I knew that it just worked and my initial lack of surety was just due to the fact that it was different. I really admire Sheeran for releasing this as the first song from the album simply because it could have been seen by a lot of people as a risk, as it isn't the sound you'd necessarily associate with him. That said, I think it was a great idea, because it clearly shows his diversity as an artist and I think there are so many singers and musicians who are completely reluctant to do that. But it's a great song and just works.
Don't is a real personal song and kind of explains the process of a relationship of sorts with someone in the same career as him. It's a bit of a jab in the eye for that person, who remains unnamed, as despite the song being quite bitchy, Ed isn't that harsh. I feel like a lot of people will have a hunch regarding who it is actually about (me included lolz), but the element of mystery probably just attracts more interest to the song. I like it. The fact that Sheeran uses songwriting to sort of 'get over' things is really great in my opinion, like he can just let the frustration out in a song and then just put it to the side and move on. What a great guy. I could listen to this song over and over (in fact I have), and it's fast-paced and super catchy.
This song is very reminiscent and comes out as a warning. Like, it sounds as though he's just saying 'you really shouldn't be with me because I'm never around,' which makes a lot of sense. But equally it looks back to how much the two people enjoyed spending time together. I like the Stevie Wonder reference, because it shows some of Ed's influences but also refers to the situation at hand (and I love Stevie Wonder so of course I would like a song that mentions him). It's quite sad despite how it looks back on happier/relaxed memories. 'Love will come and love will go, but you can make it on your own' is easily one of my favourite phrases on the whole album; it's a good message to all those teens who are infatuated with the idea of love and think, for some naive reason, that they can't live without it. It's an important message that a lot of people are too foolish to believe (I can think of several of these people off the top of my head). I like the encouragement for individualism, yet equally the suggestion that being in love is nice. A good rounded view on the matter.
Photograph is beautiful. The opening guitar sequence had me head over heels from the moment I pressed play. I love looking back over photographs and this song has basically made me realise why; they're comforting and allow you to just remember the good moments, because no one would ever want to take a picture when something sad/bad was happening. 'We keep this love in a photograph,' is quite a special lyric. Like, even people who have died can remain in your heart and you can still feel their love, because the picture will always remind you of how they made you feel. I love how Ed manages to write songs like this. He just has a way of singing about everyday things but really bringing out what those things actually mean. This song is sacred to me in the same way that photographs are. I couldn't love it more if I tried.
I'm not really sure how I feel about this song yet. It essentially describes the idea of putting different substances into your body in order to feel something, 'I've been looking for a lover, thought I'd find her in a bottle.' It's actually really sad. The idea that someone would consume alcohol etc to feel some fake form of love to warm their heart and their blood continues to be one that prevails though. Personally as someone who's never looked to drinking or substance abuse etc as an outlet for my feelings, I suppose it's something that I don't understand in the way someone who had experienced it would; so I can only really pity the people who truly understand the feelings encased in this song, because it's even sadder than meets the eye.
The guitar line that opens the song, as usual, completely captivated me from the word go. Literally I'm such a sucker for anything led by an acoustic guitar. This is definitely one of my favourites on the album. It's just exactly what you would hope for from Ed; it's everything that you would expect from a song by him, and I think it's nice that despite some tracks that sound quite different to his usual sound, he's still remained faithful to the style that personally I think he might as well have created. It's so mellow and just beautiful. 'We are surrounded by all of these lies, and people who talk too much; you've got that kind of look in your eyes, as if no one knows anything but us.' So. Pretty. So. Lyrically. Perfect. 'All that you are is all that I'll ever need,' is one of those things that deep down I think everybody would love to hear. Could listen to this song forever and never tire of it.
Runaway has a style similar to 'Sing.' It's just as catchy as well; I went out after listening to it and before writing this and it's been in my head the whole time. It's quite sad despite the strong rhythms, which I kind of like about it. 'I don't wanna live this way, gonna take my things and go,' is something that sounds familiar. The way our parents bring us up is all due to their ideals and what they want their children to do and become, and I can relate to not wanting to conform and 'live that way.' 'I love him from the skin to my bones,' expresses loving your parents still, but just not wanting to be what they want you to be. This is a song that I think a lot of teenagers would be able to relate to very easily. It sounds really relaxed as well, just laid back, perhaps reflecting what a parent doesn't want their child to be. I like it a lot.
This song is so Ed. It just sounds like his earliest music, really raw and soulful; I don't really like rapping but when he does it, it just sounds right??? I don't know, it sounds much more like storytelling than most rappers and kind of reminds me of The Script, who have the same kind of format for a lot of their songs. I feel like this song in particular is so personal, and I really admire Ed for releasing this sort of song, because I think his heart is literally on his sleeve and in a sense people will be happy to bash him for it and say mean things. But the thing is, you can always tell that he just wants to sing/speak his mind; it's very admirable.
Thinking Out Loud
This is probably the song in my opinion. There's not a single thing I could ever criticise about it. It reminds me of the sort of song you'd expect to hear in a church, just really soulful and I can imagine Ed stood at the front preaching it out. Equally it makes me think of the song you would expect to hear at the end of a film, concluding things on a happy and serene note. I think this would've been a nice song to conclude the album with, but to be honest I think it would work in any position on the track list. I just love it. It's so soulful and fueled with complete adoration.
I love how Sheeran always writes about personal experiences and this is one that pretty much everyone can empathise with and really understand. I just feel so blessed that he's willing to share this kind of song with people, because it's the kind of thing that gets people through sad things like that described. The fact that Ed has said he finished writing the song at his grandfather's funeral is just amazing really. It goes to show just how personal it all is. I think the song must be one that means a lot to him and his family, and it is just really beautiful. 'The devil took your memory' is a line that's really haunting; he just has a way of describing things like no one else would ever think to. And it's truly remarkable.
Take It Back
This song is so raw. It just feels like he wants to get his feelings out there as quickly as possible, maybe because he wants to get them out of his head, or just so it seems more conversational maybe, but it always seems to work. 'I don't ever want to be perfect, 'cause I'm a singer that you never want to see shirtless,' reminds everyone of just the kind of guy that Ed is. He's fine with making fun of himself and maybe saying what he thinks everyone else is thinking, but he's just so humble and essentially 'normal.' He's pretty much the only singer I can think of who just does their own thing and isn't doing it to try to impress anyone, but rather just for himself. He's really true to his roots and won't let himself or anyone else forget the things he's experienced and gone through to get his music heard. The song just reminds me of all the credit that he deserves for it all.
'We'll learn to swim in the oceans you made,' literally who else would ever describe dealing with crying in this way? If he wasn't musical then Ed would literally have to be a poet in my eyes. This song is so comforting. I feel like whenever anyone's sad they should just listen to this; maybe it'd make them cry more, but ultimately I think it just sounds so comforting that you couldn't not feel better after a few listens. He's so sweet. Like, I don't know, you can't listen to this song and think that Ed Sheeran isn't a nice guy at heart, because he just is.
Even My Dad Does Sometimes
I feel like if this song was written by any other artist then they would've called it 'crying' or 'it's alright' or something like that. But the title is perfect. Because it doesn't mention sadness or crying, yet instantly you'll know what it's about; because in most cases dads don't cry, but every now and then they do. Ed really just picks up on things like that and turns them into something quite magical. It's another really comforting song and I feel so grateful for it. I really feel the lyrics, more than I thought I would. This is definitely a favourite of mine. 'Tears remind you you're alive' is a really nice way to think about crying. I'm someone who would go to great lengths to avoid crying, especially when there's another person around, but at the end of the day it does remind you you're alive, because you're actually feeling something. This is another song that I could listen to until the end of time, but I think if I was particularly sad already, I'd probably just ball my eyes out haha. It's stunning.
I See Fire
The penultimate song on the album is I See Fire, which featured on the soundtrack of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.' It's a really beautiful song, and the opening initially reminded me a little of Parting Glass. I haven't seen The Hobbit so I'm not aware of how fitting it is with the film, but if it's at all similar to the way 'All of the Stars' was written for The Fault in Our Stars then I'm sure Ed got the song right down to a t. It's a really calming song despite lyrics that are indicating the exact opposite of this. Like many of Ed's songs that have come before, it's beautiful and utterly flawless.
All of the Stars
This song. That film. It's literally the perfect song and fits The Fault in Our Stars in every way. The lyrics are completely relevant ad work wonderfully with Ed's heartfelt and sincere vocals. It sounds like a lullaby to me and I have actually fallen asleep to it before. It's so mellow and really just right for the film. I think it concludes the album wonderfully.
So, these are my thoughts on x. I feel like there's been so much expected of Ed on this album, but he, as he always seems to, hasn't really cared about what people want from him, instead just writing music that means something. And he couldn't have done a better job in my opinion.
It's made me look forward to seeing him on tour in October even more, and I think it'll be a really special night.
You can download the album on iTunes here and I would really urge you to do so, because it's just incredible. Better than anything I could have hoped for.
Until next time.