Pion-ear: Divide


photo courtesy of Meddlez under the Creative Commons license

Abby Geisz, copy editor

Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 stars

Ed Sheeran’s third album, “÷” pronounced “divide,” was released after the artist took a one-year hiatus from social media March 3. Sheeran first took the world stage in 2011 with his studio album, “+”, but didn’t become a superstar until 2014 with his album, “x”.  Although each album might sound like they all follow the same formula, the British artist has successfully changed up his tune and style in “÷”. This album is better than his other two because each song is so different from the other. He blends piano, guitar and electronic beats all into a cohesive tracklist. His other albums, including songs like “The A Team” and “One,” were mainly melancholy ballads with a few faster-paced songs intertwined, while “÷” is masterfully mixed with slow and fast paced songs.

“÷” has 16 tracks, each written by Sheeran with the help of other songwriters like Johnny McDaid and Steve Mac. Sheeran will tour this album singing on stages around Latin America and finishing in Europe, starting March 13. He will kick off his North American tour starting in Kansas City, Mo. July 29. As of now, 15 of his 16 songs including, “Perfect” at No. nine and “Dive” at No. 24, are on the iTunes top 150 songs.

Ed Sheeran released two singles, “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape of You,” surprising his fanbase Jan. 6 2017. “Castle on the Hill” reminded me of my own childhood in a feel-good nostalgic type of way. With lyrics like, “When I was six years old I broke my leg, I was running from my brother and his friends,” listeners hear Sheeran tell a story. “Shape of You,” on the other hand, is an electro upbeat song that has stayed in iTunes top 25 since its release and is currently No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 100.

“New Man” and “What Do I Know?” add to the album’s faster, perkier songs. “New Man” describes his ex’s well-dressed and polished new boyfriend. I loved the lyrics and the way Sheeran described the new man in his ex’s life. However,“What Do I Know?”, delivers a different message: “Love can change the world in a moment but what do I know?”

The more tranquil ballads on the album include “Happier” and “How Would You Feel (Paean),” with the second featuring John Mayer playing a guitar solo. For listeners, these tracks bring back memories of past love and reach anyone who has felt broken hearted. Other peaceful melodies include “Dive” and “Perfect”, which aren’t as well written as the others because the lyrics are too cliché.

Sheeran, being “an Englishman,” has numerous tracks on his album with a more cultural feel to them. “Barcelona”, obviously inspired by Spanish roots, is a guitar-based song which includes some Spanish words and adds a unique twist on Sheeran’s British accent. “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” are overwhelmingly Irish. “Nancy Mulligan” hints at the religious divide between mainly Protestant England and Catholic Ireland. “Galway Girl” is a personal favorite of mine because of its unique beat and interesting lyrics like, “I walked her home then she took me inside, Finish some Doritos and another bottle of wine.”

The album ends with a powerful song, “Save Myself”. The lyrics: “And all the ones that love me, they just left me on the shelf, no farewell. So before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself.” The song has a light piano in the background allowing Sheeran’s smooth voice to be heard which gave me chills.

“÷” delivered and happily surprised me after a three-year lapse. Sheeran’s mini break was well deserved as he was producing such a strong and purposeful album. As long as his next album is titled, “-”, there is no way I can not be happy since Sheeran seems to be making better music as the years go on.