Rating: 4 out of 5
Defying his non-typical pop star appearance, Ed Sheeran has been going from strength to strength since bursting onto the international music scene in 2011.
The 24-year-old’s highly anticipated second album, X (pronounced ‘multiply’), has largely received great reviews from critics and fans, and at the 57th Grammy Awards earlier this year the album was nominated for ‘Best Pop Vocal Album’ and ‘Album of the Year’.
Having either written or co-written each of the album’s 12 tracks, all songs are perfectly suited to Sheeran’s vocal range and self-played acoustic guitar accompaniment.
X does a great job of demonstrating Sheeran’s impressive songwriting capabilities – both musical and lyrical. Like fellow pop superstar Taylor Swift, he has built his enormous fanbase on an image with certain wholesome qualities backed by actual musical talent, which has a wide appeal.
The true standout tracks on X are the slower ballads that do the best job of showcasing Sheeran’s vocals and guitar-playing abilities. These include the quiet, sweetly sung album-opener One which was reportedly written about the love interest who was the focus of his first album, and third released single Thinking Out Loud.
Don’t, the second track released, has a funky soulful sound with influences from Don’t Mess With My Man (who remembers Lucy Pearl?) that has a catchy chorus you can’t help but sing along to.
Interestingly, hip-hop mogul Pharrell Williams has contributed his efforts towards the album on tracks Sing – which sounds like it could have been written for Justin Timberlake – and Runaway which also has a Pharrell-esque soulful sound and laid back beat.
Other external musical influences on the album include work from British dance group Rudimental on Bloodstream, and Sheeran’s British-accented flat rapping on The Man which sounds like a tribute to The Streets.
Trivia: There’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it credit on the final track Afire Love for additional vocals and gang percussion that includes former Friends star Courtney Cox and her daughter Coco Arquette.
X is an interesting effort into the diversification of Sheeran’s trademark acoustic sound across a range of genres, utilising a range of musical influences. A great addition to any pop music collection.
For more information on Ed Sheeran, visit www.edsheeran.com.
Image / Warner Music