"Divide" by Ed Sheeran
After a hectic past two years, with winning two grammys and having multiple number one singles, Ed Sheeran took a noticeable break. The rules for Sheeran were no social media, no paparazzi and lots of time off. That two year break was quite possibly the best thing to happen to his music. At this point Ed Sheeran has been known for romantic songs with the acoustic guitar and loop pedal. He has cultivated a specific image and a crop of guitar playing ‘wanna-be’s’ and his music was on the verge of becoming completely repetitive and stale. With Divide, Sheeran is embarking on a new sound with global influences, electric guitar and stronger vocals.
Even though there was a mix response from fans, Sheeran has provided the best album sales alongside Adele’s 25 and Taylor Swift’s 1989. Within the needy music industry climate, he has provided a bit of hope to everyone. With these sales, Sheeran is placed in an elite club of over 1 million sales in the first week; giving him a head start to win the coveted ‘Album of the Year’ grammy with the help of his new sound, impressive lyrics, a couple commerical earworms and his impressive album sales.
Sheeran’s most confident strides are "Eraser", "Shape of You", and "Dive". Making Shape of You was one of the best career moves due to the new sound (more hip-hop influenced) and easy lyrics but older fans were pleased to hear the same loop pedal and acoustic guitar. These qualities gave it an easy number one and an extended fan base. "Eraser" is heavily hip-hop influenced but during the chorus it turns seamlessly into alternative song. His voice is raw and the hook is addictive, giving the album a hooking introduction. "Dive" feels like a more advanced John Mayer song with a storytelling approach to a ‘R&B and electric guitar’ genre. On-top of the electric guitar, Sheeran brings in the piano. "Save Myself" is a heartbreaking tale of finding self-love with gorgeous piano background, a sharp contrast to his older “emotional acoustic” archetype. These changes seem to breathe new life into Sheeran’s career and a strong-arm to the pop music world.
Another surprise about this album is the consistent Irish influences. "Happier", "Galway Girl", and "Nancy Mulligan" are heavily influenced by irish music, or more importantly, feature a mean amount of the fiddle. "Happier" is the standout of these three, having a more standard pop feel and felt like something Sheeran would write for One Direction back in the day. All three irish influences are light, happy and a good contrast to the deep storytelling to what Sheeran usually writes.
Sheeran doesn’t alienate his old fans with his new sound; he still has some familiar classics. Some songs bordered on repetitive, however Sheeran places the songs in a specific order that makes the album feel constantly fresh. "Supermarket Flowers" and "Castle on the Hill" are the most impressive in this group. The emotion is palpable and passionate, making the songs heartwarming and emotional to listen to.
Not only is this Sheeran’s most daunting project yet, but it is also his most rewarding. He has grown vocally, musically and lyrically in comparison to Sheeran’s older EP’s. Ed Sheeran has not sold out, he has grown into a full fledged juggernaut in the music industry.