Recommended Tracks: “Tides”, “2Step”, “Visiting Hours”
Artists You May Like: Louis Tomlinson, Vance Joy, James Bay
When we first met Ed Sheeran back in 2011, it was too early to tell just where things would go for the talented UK singer-songwriter. His debut single “The A Team” was blowing up, prompting everyone to ask who he was and what he was all about. Over the course of various studio albums, live albums, and collaborations albums, we got to know Ed a little better, hearing honest stories of the people, places, and experiences he encountered on his journey to becoming one of the biggest musical acts of today. Even after all he has been through these past ten years, he still knows how to surprise us and give us incredibly moving tunes, as can be heard on his latest studio album, = (equals).
Earlier in the year, Ed dropped the pop-leaning singles “Bad Habits” and “Shivers,” which were a little different for him. It seemed as if Ed might have been abandoning his humble ballads in exchange for sprightly pop music, but that is not the case on this album. On the opening track “Tides,” for instance, one of the first lines we hear is, “Everything’s changed, but I’m still the same somehow,” reassuring fans that there will be plenty of Ed Sheeran originals to go around on =. These originals come in the form of the acoustic “First Times,” the contemporary “Leave Your Life,” and the rhythmic “2Step,” all very much in-line with the music that Ed is known for releasing.
However, there are a few tracks that go beyond this sound, venturing into slightly new territory. While these tracks are not too “out there,” they do give great variety to the album. One of these tracks is the romantic “The Joker And The Queen,” where Ed reflects on meeting that special someone and knowing that they are bound for life. He shares a gentle melody with the piano for most of the song before an enchanting string bridge kicks in, taking things to new heights. There is also the kid-friendly “Sandman,” which plays out as a lullaby for his daughter. Over a mellow xylophone melody, Ed sings, “You were loved before you had arrived / And every day that love just multiplies / Daddy made your bed and your lullaby / Mama made the mobile in the sky,” making for a cute keepsake.
Usually, Ed tries to make sense of certain situations or come to terms with reality on his songs, but on =, he is mostly coming from a complacent place. Settling down into a new phase of his life, Ed is now able to look back on all that has happened and sing about it from a more understanding and grateful point of view. On “First Times,” for instance, Ed tells us about all of the major milestones in his life and how he is looking forward to so many more. We also get inspirational songs such as “Stop The Rain” and “Be Right Now,” which focus on trying your best and making the most out of the moment. By taking time to accept his wins, his losses, Ed gives us more than just riveting stories – he gives us words to live by.
All in all, = is an album that is not to be dismissed as “another Ed Sheeran album.” We all know the type of music he is capable of making, but he does not rest on these methods and formulas alone. Ed finds a way to provide a fresh perspective on old subject matter, as he does more than a few times with the love songs on the album, along with a way to create enlivening riffs or instrumentals. After listening to =, it is clear why this is Ed’s “favourite album” that he has ever made.
You can listen to = on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
Grab tickets for Ed’s upcoming UK + EU tour here.