In spite of standing as perhaps the least offensive celebrity making the headlines today, Ed Sheeran seems to have upset an impressive amount of people with his latest album ÷ . In doing this, an enormous amount of music journalists seem to have found the perfect opportunity to exhibit their misunderstanding of why people listen to the guy, criticising him of taking a “calculated”, “unimaginative” and “bland” approach to his record-breaking, chart topping monster. ÷ is his third album since reaching commercial success in 2011 with +, and once again showcases the twenty six year old’s unique flare for songwriting in a tender, playful and unpredictable album.
The past success of any stadium packing artist’s music must be a daunting consideration for when it comes to writing the following body of music. The extent to which this has been considered seems to be the biggest bug bear for the music police, with songs like New Man and Eraser tipping their hats to the previous foot tapping guitar janglers before them, daring to rock the boat in their honest and, god forbid, funny approach to the lyrics.
In an interview with Zane Lowe, Sheeran said that the best way to pull off selling out Wembley with just an acoustic guitar was to make sure you didn’t spend too long in-between making them dance and making them cry. The latter of these is carried out in five out of the sixteen songs on ÷, with song topics ranging from questioning the limit to one’s love, mourning the death of your mum and pondering the worth of self sacrifice. Supermarket Flowers and Happier stand out as the most moving pieces on the album, whereas tearjerkers Perfect and How Would You Feel do seem to break my own personal cheese threshold.
The inclusion of two Irish jigs in ÷ has also seemed to be the source of much criticism for Ed, with his label even rejecting Galloway Girl for release. However it’s these two songs, Galloway Girl and Nancy Mulligan which serve as a platform for Ed’s most quirky and most daring work to date. Sheeran’s recognition and focus on lyrical content shows his deep understanding and appreciation of why his appeal is so widespread and so infectious. It’s also in these songs we see the sillier side to public taste exercising itself, accepting Ed as not only relatable but also, goofily endearing.
People would be totally misguided to picture Ed Sheeran as the musical super villain recent talk has seemed to inspire, I am genuinely convinced, that there is still a place of innocence in Ed, which luckily, has regardless of it’s critics, still enjoyed success in being realised.
Article: Louis Fulford-Smith