Pronounced multiply, ‘X’ is the second album released by pop star Ed Sheeran. The collection of sixteen tracks fuse together three elements that has built Sheeran into one of the most recognised and lauded artists in pop. Indeed, flowing through the record is a self-assured hip-hop-flow, memorable songwriting and pop sensibility.
Sheeran’s music career began busking in Suffolk and London, notching up a notable 312 gigs in 2009, and is now arguably the UK’s biggest pop export. It’s a story that mixes pure graft and smart networking (posting videos YouTube, being friends with One Direction etc).
X’s lead single, ‘Sing’, is produced by man-of-the-moment Pharrell Williams. Sing has already hit the the UK No 1 spot and No 13 in the US Billboard chart. US success is no surprise following months of gigging – mostly with Taylor Swift – which has given Sheeran a growing profile in the continent. For a guitar man, Sheeran has moved outside of the genre long before this new record, but Sing represents the experimental Ed Sheeran at his very best, showing off his deft sweet falsetto and brilliant switches between singing and speaking.
More powerful, however, is Sheeran’s ability to bring a autobiographic style to his tracks, which vehicle his experiences and experiments with love and loss so vividly. Heartbreak track, ‘Nina’ leads with, “I met you when I was a teen, But then you were one as well, And I could play a guitar, Just like ringing a bell, Sometimes I wonder, In any other summer could you have been my part time lover”
Arguably, the core of Sheeran’s appeal is to express a plethora of contemporary styles in an accessible way. He can slip smoothly through the gears from soulful balladry (‘One‘, ‘Photograph‘) to edgy, rocky drama (‘I’m a Mess‘, ‘Bloodstream’) to anthemic singalongs (‘Afire Love‘) to twisty, poetic hip hop (‘The Man‘), sometimes all in the same song, like the hit ‘Sing‘.
With his first UK No 1 under his belt, expect many more singles off ‘X’ to hit the top of the charts. Fantastic music and a definite contender for album of the year.
Here we are on the album’s third day of release and already it’s doing rather well..