An Album a Day: ÷

March 17, ÷ Deluxe Edition by Ed Sheeran

Genre: Folksy pop
Year: 2017
Runtime: 59:27
Total tracks: 16, including four bonus tracks not included on the standard edition.
Songs you might know:
– “Castle on the Hill”
– “Shape of You”
– “Galway Girl”
– “Perfect”
– “Happier” 

My prior relationship with this album: I had certainly listened to Divide before, and no I’m not going to use the symbol every time because my keyboard doesn’t have a button for it and the way WordPress formats it otherwise annoys me. However, I never really bonded with it the way I’ve bonded with other albums. That has nothing to do with the quality,  as I’ve always felt Sheeran truly outdid his first two albums, which were also wonderful. Instead, it has to do with the fact that it wasn’t streamable on Amazon Prime. The retail shop where I used to work did enjoy playing quite a few tracks from Divide, which served to strengthen my relationship with it, especially “Galway Girl.” It’s not a coincidence that I picked this album on St. Patrick’s Day.

My impression this time around: One of the things I love about Ed Sheeran is how he manages to explore a lot of different sounds while always sounding 100% authentic. There’s more traditional Irish folk songs like “Nancy Kerrigan” which alone might be enough to justify buying the deluxe edition. Then there’s “Galway Girl” which marries that sound with more of a popish rap verse. But then we also get vulnerable ballads like “Happier” and “Supermarket Flowers.” Don’t forget stuff like “Your New Man” and “Shape of You” which come closest to the sort of catchy pop songs the rest of the industry is making, while still having some Ed Sheeran flair. Yet at no point do we ever feel like Sheeran is trying to be something he’s not, which is quite refreshing after some of the albums I listened to earlier this week.

Overall Sheeran threaded the needle of giving us what we’ve come to expect from him after his first two albums while still making enough interesting choices to feel fresh. He’s expanding his sound without betraying that sound, and that’s not easy to do.

Who would enjoy it? Pretty much anyone, especially people who like more acoustic instruments in their pop music.

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