Written by Beth Huthart
After a year out of the public eye Ed Sheeran has returned with his triumphant third album Divide (÷), following on from the success of Plus (+) in 2011 and Multiply (x) in 2014.
Divide takes you on a musical journey from the fields of Suffolk to Ireland and as far afield as Spain and Ghana; the album showcases the many different influences Ed has been exposed to on his travels during his year off.
Divide has the songs that you would expect from an Ed Sheeran album, the acoustic love/heartbreak songs and the tracks you can imagine him performing live with just him, a loop pedal, and his guitar but even when tracks such as ‘Galway Girl’ and ‘Nancy Mulligan’ take a different path musically it is still intrinsically Ed Sheeran.
The album’s opening track ‘Eraser’, that was released via a live version through the YouTube Channel SBTV in February, is reminiscent of ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ and ‘The Man’ from Ed’s first and second album respectively. The lyrics call out the idea of fame being a perfect lifestyle (“I chased the picture perfect life, I think they painted it wrong I think that money is the route of all evil, and fame is hell”) and closes by ‘welcoming’ listeners to the ‘new show’ and is a good opener for the rest of an album released after his year away.
Multiply featured a touching track about Ed’s late grandfather (Afire Love) and this album features an equally heart wrenching tribute to his Grandmother (Supermarket Flowers) that, in true Ed Sheeran fashion, is sung like a story that pulls you in and makes you feel all of the emotions he was feeling during the times he is singing about.
Ed recently told Spotify that he wanted the album to ‘feel a bit schizophrenic’ and for each song to hit something different both ‘subject matter wise and style’ and the album definitely fulfills all of those things. The album pulls you down into a slow ballad and then pushes you straight into an upbeat track that could pull you out of the experience but it’s done in a way that doesn’t do this.
It doesn’t follow the expected path, which is quite enjoyable to listen to, and a change from many other albums out there…and which other artist could sing the phrase ‘his asshole bleached’ without making you flinch?