After a year away from social media, Ed Sheeran made his return with two new singles and the announcement of his third album, ÷, which was released on March 3rd.
I’ve been listening to Ed Sheeran since 2012, after discovering him when “The A Team” was the iTunes free single of the week in June of that year. His first two records, +, and X, as well as his EPs, quickly captured and held onto my attention with every track in a way that ÷, as a whole, has not. After just one listen through of the record, I ended up making a playlist of 11 out of the 16 songs from the deluxe edition that I loved because I knew I’d skip the other five tracks every time. The eleven songs I do enjoy, however, are masterpieces.
Sheeran has always been a rather straightforward lyricist, so it’s not surprising that the opening track, “Eraser,” talks about the negative effects that the mainstream music industry has had on his life and the way he views the world. The purpose of his year long hiatus was to detach from a lot of that and try to get in touch with his roots again. He even admits in the song that he forgets what he’s gone through to be where he is now. In “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” from +, Sheeran sings, ‘I won’t stop ’til my name’s in lights, at stadium heights with Damien Rice,’ and in “Eraser” he calls back to that line reflectively with, ‘Wembley stadium crowds, two hundred and forty thou / I may have grown up but I hope that Damien’s proud.’ It’s obvious that Sheeran had a lot of processing to do after accomplishing some of his biggest dreams, so lyrical themes of retrospection and his newfound worldview take the forefront on this album.
Sheeran’s minimalistic songs are where he truly shines. They feel like instant classics一ones that make me nostalgic for years I have yet to live. Tracks like “Perfect,” “Happier,” “Supermarket Flowers,” and “Save Myself” instantly have me reminiscing of when I first discovered his music. He’s added more elements to his sound than just playing with his guitar and loop pedal, as he grows into an acoustic-pop sound rather than his singer/songwriter stylings on +. It will be interesting to see how he performs these more detailed tracks on tour.
“Supermarket Flowers” is the heartbreaking album closer to the standard edition of ÷. It’s easy to assume this song is about Sheeran’s mom, but as explained in an interview with Capital FM, the lyrics are actually about his late grandmother, but they’re written from his mom’s point of view. Although “Supermarket Flowers” is arguably the most gorgeous track on the record, the deluxe edition closer, “Save Myself,” feels like the most fitting end to his third LP. “Save Myself” is the only bonus track I like, and I really wish it had been the final track on the standard edition. It feels like a resolution of sorts to everything he sings of experiencing in “Eraser.” He realizes he’s reached a point where he needs to prioritize where he’s putting his time and energy to help himself better his personal life and his mental health. “Save Myself” feels like an optimistic view towards his future, especially in regards to staying level-headed in his career. ÷ may not be my favorite album that Ed Sheeran has released, but the majority of the record is impeccable enough for me to recommend that everyone give it a listen.
Ed Sheeran recently announced a full US tour. These shows are sure to sell out fast, so if you’re interested in going, then don’t hesitate to buy your ticket when they go on sale! All of his tour dates can be found at edsheeran.com/tour.