Ed Sheeran reaches through the “Divide” between genres

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Ed Sheeran has been a popular artist since his 2011 single “The A Team” became a top 10 hit in 10 different countries. Sheeran is specifically known for his lyrics and has won multiple awards for them over the past few years. 

The English singer-songwriter released his third studio album,”÷” (“Divide”) on March 3. When he released the first two singles off the new album,”Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill,” they immediately rose to popularity and could be found on the top of the UK Singles Chart. 

“Castle on the Hill” is a tribute song to Sheeran’s home town of Framlingham in Suffolk, England.  The song conveys nostalgic upbeat lyrics that depict images from what seem like Sheeran’s adolescence. Lyrics such as, “When I was six years old I broke my leg... Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes,” are complemented by the quick drums that are present though the whole song.

The album starts out with the song “Eraser,” which is an acoustic guitar song with fast, rap-like lyrics. This style of singing is similar to some of Sheeran’s other songs and is something he excels at. “Eraser” speaks towards Sheeran’s current life and makes references to his achievements and dreams. 

“Galway Girl” is a fan favorite off of “Divide” and describes a girl Sheeran fell in love with. Since the album’s release fans have created a lot of speculation around who the “Galway Girl” is. The song itself is a soulful folk tune with lyrics that paint a picture. 

The eighth song on the album, “New Man,” is a playful stab at an ex’s new boyfriend. “He’s got his eyebrows plucked and his arsehole bleached” is among the many insults that make up the song. Sheeran even makes pop-culture references when he sings, “now you’re eating kale, hitting the gym, keeping up with Kylie & Kim.”

A song towards the end of the album, “Barcelona,” has a spanish influence with heavy drums and is a mellow dancey tune. The second to last song on “Divide” is called “Nancy Mulligan” and tells the tale of a timeless romance through the ages. The song could also be a reference to Sheeran’s own family because he does sing how Nancy Mulligan took William Sheeran’s name and “then [they] were one.” “Nancy Mulligan” is easily the most folk related song on “Divide” and heavily contrast the more pop and hip hop songs.

The last song on the album, “Save Myself,” is encased in melancholy, butends the album beautifully. “Save Myself” preaches the art of self care and covers darker topics lyrically. 

A few of the songs off “Divide” seem to get lost within the rest of the songs. The album contains many enjoyable songs but it is easy to miss Sheeran’s lyrical mastery on some of the slower, acoustic songs. 

The 16 song, full-length album, which has become a standard for Sheeran, has a significant amount of diversity in genres that ranges from folk to culturally influenced sounds. 

Overall, the sound is conclusive but lacks transition between drastically different songs. Sheeran told The Guardian, “I’m at the point where even if I get a one-star review for every album I released for the rest of my life, I’ll still be able to play music.”

Sheeran has continued to release emotional and honest songs over the past few years and he still holds the title of singer-songwriter accurately. Even on his third studio album, his sound remains familiar yet fresh.