In case you somehow haven’t heard yet, Ed Sheeran uploaded all 16 songs from his new album, Divide, to YouTube Thursday in full and for free. Wow. First of all, how generous and totally awesome is that?? Especially considering his album didn’t officially drop until Friday. I don’t know about you guys, but I love Ed Sheeran. I’ve been a fan since his first album. Not only is he a lyrical genius, but he also holds a unique place within the music world. There aren’t many artists in the Pop genre with music that sounds as organic as his or that are predominately known as a singer/songwriter since most artists who have either of those traits are usually associated with other music genres.
Ed is known for having great songs without a lot of production–which was thoroughly showcased at the Grammy’s just a few weeks ago where he performed his new single, “Shape of You.” He was alone onstage with a guitar, a pedal-board controller, and a microphone. If you haven’t seen it yet, it was an impressive and captivating performance.
Divide, Ed’s third full length album, continues this signature mix of great lyrics and minimal production (meaning no heavy bass beat or use of a synthesizer like many pop songs). It also adds a greater variety of complimentary instruments to this album than his previous studio productions. These additional instruments still maintain the organic and almost acoustic-like feel of his music without overwhelming the audial aesthetic of the songs. I think one of my favorite examples of this is his modern reimagining of the classic Irish song “Galway Girl” because he added some fiddles, voices, and I think even a flute at one point in the background.
I also have to just take a moment to say that I love how his album titles and covers all seem to follow a theme. First came Plus (+), then came Multiply (X), and now he’s released Divide whose album symbol is, of course, ÷. I’ve seen the running jokes online about how he must either really love math or is subtly trying to teach his listeners math which I find amusing. While I don’t know if there is any particular reasoning behind the succession of math symbols (maybe he’s simply taking inspiration from Adele’s chronologically numbered albums?), I find it to be just another example of why Ed Sheeran is in a class of his own. The math symbols are simple, a bit mysterious, and just a little quirky and nerdy like Ed himself.
All in all, Divide is a quintessential Ed Sheeran album but it also demonstrates how he has evolved just a bit more as an artist since Multiply. I’m looking forward to enjoying this new album. What do you think of Divide?