by Amanda Allen ‘17
Ed Sheeran’s highly anticipated album “Divide” was released at the top spot of the charts on March 3 and received four out of five stars from Rolling Stone Magazine. The success and praise are well deserved, because “Divide” could not be described in any other way than extraordinarily original.
The album traces Sheeran’s experiences over the past year during his break from social media. He bought an iPad and only communicated through e-mail while on his travels. As a New Year’s resolution, Sheeran cut himself off from using a cell phone and went completely off the grid to travel the world for new inspiration.
Judging by the success of his album, most critics would argue that he found the desired effect. Every song on the album is completely unique; he goes from singing and rapping with a club-music feel to heavy orchestra ballads, and in one song even hints at Irish folk. The leading number one single of the album, “Shape of You,” released in January, is a good example of Sheeran stepping outside of his comfort zone. Sounding like modern catchy Caribbean pop song, “Shape of You” has African marimba percussions with lyrics describing a fun new romance, “We push and pull like a magnet do. Although my heart is falling too.”
The release of “Shape of You” really helped draw attention back to the British singer and songwriter after being largely absent from the public since his Grammy win for song of the year, “Thinking Out Loud,” in 2016.
On the opposite side of the pop spectrum, the second single, “Castle on the Hill,” which currently sits third on the charts, provides nostalgia for Sheeran’s hometown of Suffolk, England. The music video of the song features real students from his former high school. Also in the video is Sheeran’s cottage, referred to as the castle. This anthemic pop-rock has a vintage feel for listeners who enjoy bands like U2.
To advance his sound even more, he includes ballads with rapping. Even though he claims that he is “not a rapper but a singer with a flow” in the song “Take it Back” from his last album, “Multiply,” he showcases his ability to spit out lyrics in songs like “Eraser” and “New Man.”
Sheeran returns to his Irish roots in “Galway Girl,” an alternative foot-tapping tune, which is about a fiddle-playing girl that he met in his time off. The dance-provoking melody describes the unforgettable girl who challenged him in many games such as darts and pool.
Sheeran provides a range of styles, making it possible for different audiences to enjoy “Divide.” He showcases his unique style and challenges himself to move beyond typical love songs.