Release Date: Jun 23, 2014
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop, Singer/Songwriter, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
"Tell me when it kicks in", pleads Ed Sheeran, his 'Bloodstream' coursing along softly, a familiar safe acoustic guitar the bed upon which his vocals lay mostly still, the occasional toss and turn too demure to upset the surface. Sheeran's debut, +, was almost all surface, yet it quickly established a major success story. What it failed to establish was a major personality.
Has recent pop music offered a more startling example of an artist playing against type than Sing, the No 1 single that introduces us to the profoundly unlikely figure of Ed Sheeran, priapic sex machine? Sheeran, as you can scarcely have failed to notice, has spent the last three years selling an astonishing number of records: his new album finds itself being launched into a chart that its predecessor still shows no signs of vacating, 144 weeks after its release. As he would be the first to admit, his appeal is predicated on a certain wholesomeness. His acoustic guitar is held to be a bulwark against the Auto-Tuned artifice of modern pop.
It's a little glib to call Ed Sheeran the U.K.'s answer to Jason Mraz, yet there's a grain of truth in that statement. Like Mraz, Sheeran plays around with hip-hop cadences but at his core he's a singer/songwriter, and a sensitive one at that, one who prefers love tunes to songs of protest, something that is quite evident on X, his second collection of original songs. Although he sometimes pours out his heart armed with no more than an acoustic guitar, he's not a troubadour; those hip-hop roots means he'll not only ramble out a rap, but he's also quite comfortable with luxurious, shimmering textures and buoyant melodies.
An acoustic singer-songwriter who muscles his way onto the pop charts and into Grammy voters’ hearts is a rare breed indeed these days. Yet that’s exactly what Great Britain’s Ed Sheeran managed with 2011’s + (pronounced “plus”), which even broke big in America thanks to the bittersweet character sketch “The A Team. ” Expecting another lightning-in-a-bottle, gentle hit like that seems like a fool’s errand, so it’s probably a good move by Sheeran to embrace his inner Timberlake on his new album X (pronounced, you guessed it, “multiply.
The first time I saw Ed Sheeran perform was when I stumbled across him by accident, at a small festival in the middle of an English countryside. Barely anyone had heard of his name, but he was playing in a tent filled with couches and that was probably the main reason he acquired an audience. Fast forward a good few years and he’s a global superstar.
Oh, Ed Sheeran, so much to answer for. Without Ed, we may not have had a parade of earnest, tattooed young men half-singing and half-rapping over an acoustic guitar. We may not have had an explosion of buskers in every high street (with their own soundsystem no less) crooning The A Team with stars in their eyes of duetting with Taylor Swift some day.
He doesn’t have deep dimples or hot abs, but that hasn’t stopped Ed Sheeran from becoming one of today’s most squeezable teen idols. The new album by the 23-year-old British singer-songwriter crystallizes a character, and elaborates on a sound, that has given him the clout to pack three shows at Madison Square Garden last fall with the screamy set. He has also racked up one of the summer’s biggest singles with “Sing.” The new music differs crucially from the sound of Sheeran’s breakthrough debut, the 800,000-selling “+.” While that work stressed pop-spiced ballads, “x” laces in traces of soul.
On his second album, X, Ed Sheeran supersizes his romantic affliction: Each new day is a fresh chance for this guy to hit the bar, fall in love, get his heart stomped like a bug – and then dissect the gory remains over a pretty acoustic melody. A pop-wise folkie who's equally comfortable in coffee shops and the Top 40, Sheeran, 23, has written with Taylor Swift and for One Direction, among many others. He went multiplatinum with 2012's +, and it seems like the experience might be starting to rattle the English singer-songwriter's head, not to mention corrode his liver.
Ever since the success of The A Team, a cryptic ode to a drug-addicted prostitute that left swarms of young girls sighing in his wake, Ed Sheeran has displayed a most intriguing knack for duplicity. It begins with his lovelorn singer-songwriter persona--from his baby-faced smile to that tender, unassuming gaze, he appears primed to fit a mold too marketable to be broken in this age of sold-out Taylor Swift concerts and overplayed schmaltzfests à la Passenger’s ‘’Let Her Go’’ . To the uncritical listener, Sheeran churns out love songs, romanticizing the woes of tormented relationships and raspily crooning bad metaphors over heartstring-tugging guitar chords.
Review Summary: Too much can still mean too little.Internet critic and comedian Todd in the Shadows has coined and frequently brought up a genre he likes to call the "White Guy with an Acoustic Guitar" genre. Basically, the phrase refers to (as the name would imply) usually white solo guitarists and singers who either play overly simplistic indie folk or boring reggae chords with no depth or meaning whatsoever. Obviously this isn't a stab against every white male with an acoustic guitar (considering how much great folk and blues there is, among other genres), but rather the modern pop trope that concerns the aforementioned qualities.
Ed Sheeran is an English singer/songwriter who's captured millions of teenage hearts with little more than an acoustic guitar and a pop formula - perhaps a harbinger of top 40's shift away from glistening dance-pop to earthier styles. Although his second album fills out his bare-bones sound with beats and rhymes that place him on the rap spectrum somewhere between the Streets and Third Eye Blind, X (pronounced "multiply") largely revels in mushy folk-pop sentimentality that offers the same comforting embrace as a Hollywood rom-com. Sheeran is a smart songwriter with a sharp instinct for fun melodies that will play well live as well as on the radio.
x, Ed Sheeran's second album, is not even out yet, but Sheeran's fans have already gone forth and multiplied, as per its instruction. One grateful US couple won tickets to a mobile phone event last year, where they were serenaded by Sheeran, author of 2011's multimillion-selling +. The pair conceived later that night. The baby's name is Edelle.
Taylor Swift bestie and duet partner, writer of songs for One Direction, management client of Sir Elton John, British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran comes into his own on his sophomore album “x” — pronounced “multiply. ” If his slow-burning hit 2011 debut “+” — pronounced “plus” — helped break Sheeran thanks to “The A Team,” a hushed lament about a drug-addled prostitute, “x” will be remembered for the redhead letting loose his inner soulman and MC. It works thanks to his own keening croon and assistance from a wide spectrum of producers known for their work with rock and hip-hop artists, including Rick Rubin and Pharrell.
To many, Ed Sheeran is simply an adorkable British ginger who moonlights as Taylor Swift’s BFF in both song (her mega-hit “Everything Has Changed”) and in real life (this Drake-themed needlepoint). But before opening for T-Swizzle—and giving his career and reputation a boost, especially in the U.S.—the 23-year-old was already carving out a solid career as a sensitive acoustic sprite with a penchant for hip-hop and R&B. Before he had a record deal, Sheeran collaborated on songs with U.K.
It's a story as old as Bob Dylan: a guitar-toting young troubadour heads to the city, gets a deal, hits it big and then goes electric. In 2014, his name is Ed Sheeran, he's 23 and from a coastal town two hours from London. His new record, "x," arrives on the heels of his Grammy-winning folk-pop hit "The A-Team." It's crammed with hits and will make him a star.