New Year, New Music – Ed Sheeran

We hadn’t heard from loveable ginger singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran since mid-December where he teased everyone with a simple blue profile pic / cover photo on social media, till New Years Day when we got the announcement that he was releasing ‘new music’ on the Friday…. Friday came and he surprised us with not 1 but 2 new singles!

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I sat myself down in the quiet to give the 2 released songs a proper listen, and they seem to give little clues as to what the vibe of the new album will be – presumably in keeping with the themes of past albums and seeing the artwork so far shown, we can guess that it’ll be called ‘Divide’, but the two songs released are fairly different.

It doesn’t appear as though Ed has resorted back to the ‘one man and his guitar’ vibe of his first release +, although upon first listen of Shape of You I thought that could be an option… then I listened to Castle On The Hill and it made me think this could be a ‘stadium’ album with the possibility of it having a pretty huge club sound.

I’m personally loyal to Ed’s original music because of how stripped back it is, but I know of course music and musicians change, develop and fit in with what the audience enjoys – in Ed’s case I’ve noticed that thanks to producer Pharell Williams on his previous album X it opened up the possibilities of the music being easily adapted into club tunes, which I think helped make the music more accessible – and although relatively melancholy, Shape of You has a drum track and synth rhythm that drives the song which are quite ‘club / house’ sounding – similarly to Ed’s huge song from X – Sing.

Shape of You is a love song featuring Ed’s signature unique, poetic and cheeky lyric writing style:

“Girl, you know I want your love / Your love was handmade for somebody like me” – Shape of You

Honestly my only negative feeling about this song is that it doesn’t change musically throughout the song pretty much at all – the drums stay the same and the synth ‘house’ lead rhythm only drops out for the presumably ‘middle 8 / bridge’ section, but does that matter? In my case, I listen to Ed for his lyrics and the way he sings them so no – it’s personal preference whether that bothers you or not. I enjoyed the lesser played songs from his previous album and I feel like Shape of You is similar to them, so perhaps it was brave to release it so early on…

Side note: I’m also truly loving the backing vocals/harmonies in SOY. Amazing and slightly non-western.

Below: Official lyric video for Shape of You

Castle On The Hill truly surprised me – it has a rather ‘stadium’ feel in the chorus, and made me think of old-school 90s-2000s stadium bands such as U2, Coldplay and even some Take That tracks with the repetitive twinkly guitar, tom drums pushing the rhythm, and emotive breathy, on-the-cusp raspy shouty vocals…. if that makes sense.

The song is really rather nostalgic – shown in the vocals:

“I was younger then, take me back to when I / Found my heart and broke it here / Made friends and lost them through the years / And I’ve not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I’ve grown / But I can’t wait to go home” – Castle On The Hill

Perhaps Ed was channelling his inner younger self and by doing that managed to replicate the vibe of music around when he was younger and that’s why it reminded me of some earlier ‘Stadium’ Rock!

So far I prefer Shape of You because let’s be honest – Ed’s romantic writing has changed the music played at weddings thanks to his songs such as Thinking Out Loud and Photograph – he manages to not just write the same old love songs that’ve been around for 50+ years. (not that they’re bad at all), but it is refreshing to have a different vibe of love song especially when it’s by a pretty average ginger bloke from the UK… with immense songwriting talent.

Below: Official video for Castle On The Hill

Good on you, Ed. Really looking forward to hearing how the album comes together!

Are you an Ed Sheeran fan? Have a listen and tell me what your opinions are so far!

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