"A Millenial's Music Musing's" by Amanda Huffaker
Before I begin musing over Ed Sheeran’s unmatched talent and inevitably successful new album, I must ask you one question:
Have you ever heard a song that you are 100% sure is being sung by Justin Timberlake and jam out with “JT” for weeks and weeks before realizing it is, in fact, not Justin at all, but rather Ed Sheeran? (“Ed Sheeran?” you would ask yourself. “The British red head that kind of resembles Ron Weasley? No way. It can’t be.”)
If you answered YES to this question, do not be alarmed. You are not alone.
If you answered NO, then you clearly have not heard “Sing” off Ed’s newest album X (pronounced multiply).
In this upbeat single co-produced by none other than Pharrell Williams, Sheeran manipulates his voice to sound very similar to Justin’s. And though I am very picky about who I induct into my imaginary “Falsetto Hall of Fame” (whose prestigious members include Michael Jackson and JT himself), Ed definitely earns himself a spot for the incredible notes he hits in “Sing”.
But enough about Ed’s super popular single. Let’s talk about some of the less mainstream songs that you may not have had the pleasure of discovering yet. Sheeran slows it way down for “One” and “Photograph,” which are two love songs that even love guru Adele could appreciate. “Tell me that you turned down the man/Who asked for your hand/'Cause you're waiting for me.” The opening lines of “One” are a testimony to the softer, more romantic characteristics of Sheeran, who normally favors the Byronic hero side of his personality.
“Photograph” is similarly stunning due to Sheeran’s soothing tone and subtle background music, which perfectly complements the song’s intimate feel. Longing to capture love in a still frame photograph that the recipient of this heartfelt ballad could “keep inside the pocket of [her] ripped jeans,” Sheeran spits out this incredibly beautiful final stanza:
When I'm away
I will remember how you kissed me
Under the lamppost
Back on 6th street
Hearing you whisper through the phone
Wait for me to come home.
And since I’m on a roll with Ed’s awesome love songs, let me tell you about just one more. “Thinking Out Loud” is much more lively than “One” or “Photograph,” however, the sentiment matches that found only inside the sappy pages of a Nicholas Sparks novel. But don’t let that deter you! Ed confesses some seriously dreamy lines such as, “I will be loving you til we’re 70!” and “Honey your soul could never grow old, it's evergreen/And baby your smile's forever in my mind and memory.” Dang, Ed. I’m sold.
But Sheeran does much, much more than just love songs. He can rap with the best of them, clearly enunciating words at record speeds. Coming in toward the end of the album, “The Man” is one example of his impeccable ability to create a soulful track with little help from musical creativity.
Like jazz? Ed Sheeran can accommodate that too. “Don’t” is super catchy and incorporates a variety of instruments, making it the kind of coffeehouse hit that gets people swaying in their seats. Revolving around the repeated line, “Don’t [mess] with my love,*” Sheeran boldly sings of love gone wrong while on tour.
All in all, this album is superb. Sheeran craftily combines a variety of genres, which makes X an album everyone can love. Though Ed is very clear about the importance that his music has in his life (in X’s song “Nina,” Ed even states,” I put my job over everything except my family and friends”), this album speaks volumes. The time, energy, and passion that Ed Sheeran has devoted to X is evident in every single track. So, whoever you are, with whatever kind of musical taste you have, go check out this phenomenal addition to Ed Sheeran’s already very impressive resume.
* Unedited version of this album uses explicit language that may be offensive to some.