Ed Sheeran new album 'Divide' review: Impressive, but safe
Ed Sheeran's 'Shape of You' did phenomenally well in 2016, retaining a top position across music charts around the world.
However, the 'Thinking of You' singer's music has changed considerably since I first heard him in 2012. He released his latest album 'Divide' on 3 March 2017; this is an album fans have been looking forward to for a while, since he the last time he released an album was in 2014.
The new album, which has 12 songs, has a mellow feel with lyrics of a personal, autobiographical nature.
Many of them make for great songs to dance to, and I'm sure they'll be playing in clubs for months to come. While some of the tracks are memorable, the rest of the album fails to impress.
Perhaps this is because a majority of the songs dwell on subjects and emotions that are widely written about, but sadly, Ed Sheeran does not offer anything new in his treatment of them.
'Eraser' uses the interesting motif of being able to erase away memories and bad thoughts to move on and "find comfort in pain". It is a song about life's struggles. This track almost ventures into the genre of rap. 'Dive' is a contemplative song, which is a plea to a lover to be truthful about gestures. The sound of this song is quite similar to John Mayer's 'Gravity'.
There is also a song about self-love called 'Save Myself', where a weary narrator tells the story of how none of the people he supported are there for him.
'What Do I Know', 'How Would You Feel', 'Happier' and 'Perfect' are well-crafted but not particularly striking.
What truly stayed with me are the songs 'Bibia Be Ye Ye' and 'Galway Girl'. While the former has a bohemian, devil-may-care vibe, the latter is about falling in love with an Irish woman who played the fiddle in a band. Both have refreshingly new sounds. The story narrated in 'Galway Girl' is adorable and the beats have spunk.
If you like this song, you'll also like 'Nancy Mulligan', which has the tone of a folk song and similar lyrics.
Another interesting track is 'Supermarket Flowers', which describes several motifs from everyday life such as store-bought flowers, day old tea, a photo album to talk about love that has been lost. And yet, this song is optimistic because it reminds us that a broken heart is a "heart that has been loved". It is only apt that it has a refrain with the word Hallelujah in it.
As someone who had high expectations of this album, I'm not too impressed. But I do have five new songs which I will happily add to my playlist.
'Divide' would have been a more promising album had Ed Sheeran experimented more.
Listen to the full album here.