23 November 2014

Ed Sheeran - X

Ed Sheeran x (pronounced ‘multiply’)

General Impressions: This guy has a lovely voice and incredible range, in what seems to be for the most part a very relaxed and natural delivery.

The lyrics are quite clever and well arranged, telling a story about what is on the guys mind, or demonstrating a general feeling. It’s very relatable in parts.

One-It’s a break up song, which after listening to this I was confused that the album isn’t called x for the reason it’s about exes… But is eloquent: “and all my friends have gone to find a place to let their hearts collide.” So nicely put. I like.

I’m a Mess: This guy doesn’t mess around with his titles. They’re down to earth and simplistically descriptive. The way the lyrics wrap around and through his melody/strumming acoustic guitar, is quite complicated, possibly he underestimates his ability, or he just isn’t too pretentious. Either way-impressive.

I’ve got to say though, in-between my short and sweet descriptors, they are pretty much pop songs, and so appeal to the masses as it were, but they’re clever, and well sung, and so it’s not surprising he caught the discerning eye and ear of Elton John. Some are trite beyond belief however and meet the whole boy band ‘hey baby’ brigade. Shame.

Sing: And there we have it, the more generic pop. What happened, where did his acoustic guitar go? I’m not happy. It’s as if he stepped from a place of authenticity into a pop manufacturing machine. Ugh. I’m sorry I just can’t. Maybe it’s for light relief and sheer fun? For a collaboration with some other musical pals? Slight sigh with pursed lips…not my thing. It is catchy though.

Don’t: He’s still in pop mode, the hip hop beat prevalent, slightly defensive lyrics though, but alcohol features largely in the lyrics, ‘babe and baby’ my lyrical bug bears. It’s as if this guy has decided to bring out a dichotomous album, stuff he likes, and I guess why not? It’s his work after all. And the work is listenable I’ll give him that, he almost has a convert here. Almost.

I must state here, it’s actually a pretty good representation of the mind of someone in there early twenties, especially of someone who has found-or worked hard for and found-fame at an early age. The conflicting elements of wanting and needing every day things we all need to survive, and then the other stuff, the work, the attention. It’s angry and it’s sad, it’s defensive and revelling in success.

Nina: Piano piece is a nice intro, it’s a lyrical rap, hip hop type beat, a story, which does yes include the words babe and baby, but then, if nicknames where private and it’s an expression of affection, shall I allow it?? Hmm. It’s a track that reflects on coming of age, life and shifting roles, pretty poignant.

Photograph: I’m drawn in by a pleasant voice, caramel smooth, I like the paired down instruments, acoustic guitar and piano. It manages to be depressing and uplifting at the same time. You get the feeling that this man is a cut above the general sugary pop, he is capable of depth and beauty, a real genuine talent in this genre.

Bloodstream: Alcohol features heavily in the lyric content again. I must admit, I am a little concerned, part of me hopes someone has helped him through his use of negative coping strategies. But seems he’s aware enough. Its catchy, the music and lyrics very insightful, the build ups canny in terms of dramatic effect and listenability.

Tenerife Sea: I prefer this to the hip hop types, and it’s almost hypnotising, you do get a lovely feel of the sunny place he’s describing. The percussive type of playing is similar to Newton Faulkner.

Runaway: Back to Hip Hop-self-confident swagger, and to be honest he is probably very much entitled to it, it just doesn’t seem to ring true somehow. The lower end of the octave singing is very appealing and the “I love her from my skin and my bones” highlights his unique approach to lyrics. The happy beep bb can, in my opinion, fuck right off –sorry-just not me.

The Man: The rap seems to follow the format of a letter. Growing pains. Lyrically very good.

Thinking Out…?? It’s a love song. It channels Bruno Mars and Miles Sanko, various 70’s type smoothies.

A Fire? Love song, it’s sad and grieving. It does catch you and it’s effective.

….? This is angry, rapping that he is a singer not a rapper, it’s a lashing out at critics, and you can understand why someone would do this, if you’re in the limelight and putting stuff out there that’s very personal, everyone’s got an opinion, and that must be hard to swallow. His thoughts laid bare, heart on his sleeve. This is not my style of music at all, but goodness me he has won me over.

There are other tracks, and I have sat and listened to them happily. A little fatigues I think, after a long day it was nice just to sit back and have this on in the background. However, due to this I did miss a few.

I see Fire: This is definitely my favourite so far-my attention snapped back at this one-and that is difficult to achieve, as I am a hard core day dreamer. Its sweet, a lament, seems like this is where he lives, his natural place, or me anyway-the combination of simple acoustic guitar strumming, his melodic voice, a touch of folky violin, this to me makes sense. Also-is he singing about Smaug from the Hobbit? The geek in me is wondering. Is this why this song rang true with me. *I did actually look this up after writing this and yes-it is for the Hobbit!

All of the Stars: He held my attention. This is also beautiful. It starts paired down then has an orchestra type sound, channelling the epic arena Coldplay type crowd pleasers, but with something quintessentially Sheeran.

In summery-I think the paired down tracks showcase his beautiful voice and music in a way the more complex/produced/hip hop beat tracks don’t. But this is his choice, his taste and his music. And I’m happy to leave him to that, he’s doing great.

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