After teasing us with movie tracks I See Fire and All of The Stars, Ed Sheeran has finally released new original music all of his own. His growing fan base has been patiently waiting for X (multiply) ever since 2011’s + became a worldwide phenomenon. Sheeran may have had a busy few years of extensive touring (including selling out Maddison Square Garden and opening for buddy Taylor Swift’s Red Tour), but that hasn’t stopped him from pouring heart and soul, blood, sweat and tears into his second studio album.
While + featured mainly a multitude of acoustic ballads, X intersperses its ballads with upbeat grooves and mide-tempo tracks. This gives great variety and a new direction to Ed’s sound; he pushes boundaries even though he could have easily written a second version + just to stay successful and on top of the music industry. Whilst Sheeran is known for the sound of his vocals and his guitar, most songs on X feature a full band, giving him a whole new sound.
Lead single Sing features an uptempo pop vibe with Sheeran’s unique singing-rap and choppy guitar riffs. Following in the same vein is Don’t, which is fast becoming a favourite of many. A stinging tale of a lover’s betrayal, Don’t has a bit of jazz vibe because of the staccato piano in the background. One of the reasons so many people have fallen in love with this incredibly catchy song isn’t only because it’s so different from what fans expect of Sheeran; the lyrics are completely fearless, and Sheeran isn’t afraid for the world to hear the honest and intimate details of his life.
Fans who were perhaps worried about the uptempo Sing will be happy to see many classic Sheeran ballads on X. Thinking Out Loud features some stunning imagery in its lyrics, as Sheeran’s incredible vocals are showcased by the songs sweet sentiments. Photograph is a perfect pop ballad, drawing attention to Ed’s fantastic falsetto, and the gorgeous Afire Love boasts beautiful violin and piano instrumentals throughout. One sees the return to just guitar and vocals, with subtle tempo changes that set this love song apart from others.
The Man and Take It Back see Sheeran rapping for the majority of these songs. However, it’s not the singing rap that fans have come to know from the hit You Need Me, But I Don’t Need You. The two tracks from X see Sheeran rapping ‘straight’; because of this, I feel that these songs don’t feature the rhythmic perfection which made You Need Me, But I Don’t Need You so great. In The Man and Take It Back, Sheeran sometimes seem to be in a bit of a rush to get all the lyrics out. However, these two tracks give great variety and dynamics to an already diverse album.
Runaway is has a surprising r & b vibe mixed with great instrumentals, which gives the song a great vibe despite its bitter lyrics. Tenerife Sea is a love song with a subtle playfulness, whilst the mid-tempo Bloodstream focuses on darker themes resulting in beautiful imagery.
X offers an eclectic mix of songs from the 24-year old, whose popularity only continues to grow. Whilst + was in no way naive, in this new release Sheeran showcases a new found maturity. Ed Sheeran’s X is an album that dares to be fearless and pushes boundaries, and will have fans agreeing that it was worth the wait.