After the world-wide success of his debut album +, Ed Sheeran is back with his second offering x. But has the man from Suffolk successfully navigated that tricky second album? Sophie Brannon gives us her verdict…
Ed Sheeran’s new album ‘x’ contains a multiplicity of genres and collaborators – including Snow Patrol and Rick Rubin – and is set to eclipse the success that his debut had. The 23 year old singer-songwriter is setting new standards with his wordplay and talent. By weaving his heartbreak and despair in with some of his favourite past-times (leaving some to be ever so slightly concerned about the state of his liver) he’s succeeded in immersing the listener into his life’s journey, from Suffolk country-bumpkin to international superstar.
‘X’s’ lead single ‘Sing’ – co-written by Pharrell Williams, had already hit number one in the UK and multiple other countries prior to album release, and it was good to see Ed stepping out of his comfort zone. With the slow release of most songs on the album throughout the past week, the anticipation for its international release was at an all-time high last night. Despite this, since its release, ‘X’ has failed to appear on social media trends. So does this mean that the album has flunked? Of course not. In the US, ‘X’ has already taken a lead on the album chart and is already pushing the 42,000 sold copies of its predecessor ‘+’ in its debut week. It seems as though Ed might break the barrier of having a better second album than his first – a challenge that he accepted with open arms.
With Ed’s crooning love ballads ‘One’, ‘Nina’, ‘Tenerife Sea’, ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and ‘I’m a mess’, we can’t help but to want buy some needle and thread just to sew up his poor broken heart. The underlying strength of these guitar-laden love songs is clearly in his refined song-writing: an improvement from his last album, which although was strong, showed a tendency to ramble. ‘The Man’ is a clear sign of Ed’s experimental nature as he takes on a The Streets type sound to reinforce his message to his old flame whilst questioning his musical calling.
Ed also knows how to display emotion through the harsh bitterness of ‘Don’t’ – one of the standout tracks on the album. A swipe at a fellow famous musician who gave him mixed signals, it’s clear to see the six months spent with Taylor Swift on her ‘Red’ tour rubbed off on him. Echoing the style of some of his E.P. tracks like ‘One Night’ off of his Loose Change E.P., we welcome the original Ed Sheeran back.
The closing song on the album ‘Afire Love’, an emotional track about Alzheimer’s, shows Ed’s determination to write what he wants to write instead of simply chasing sales and trying to appeal to a specific fan base. Although the growing love of teenage girls around the world is imminent (until a new crooner breaks into the business), ‘X’ appeals to all generations with its relatable and heartfelt music. It is for this reason that ‘X’ is by far Ed’s best album yet.
Best songs: Don’t, Tenerife Sea, Afire Love, The Man