His new album “=” is the fourth full album release for Ed Sheeran. It is by far the most raw and personal album Sheeran has produced. The singer-songwriter wrote most of his songs, collaborating with his brother Matthew Sheeran, Sam Roman and Amy Wadge on a few songs as well.
The entire album is Sheeran expressing his love for his family and fans. The songs showcased were written from 2017 up until the day of the release, October 29. Similar to his other albums, “=” is filled with different styles of music such as sounds from the 50s, 80s and more contemporary pop-rock as of late, all to trample set expectations.
The album was created with great care and intentionality. Upon his interview with Apple, Sheeran revealed that he wants listeners to play the album at least once in numerical order, starting at “Tides” ending at “Be Right Now.” The singer does not reveal why, but this indicated that he purposefully laid out his songs in a way in which he felt his audience would gain the most out of it. This would make sense because the themes present are detailed to be very important to Sheeran.
A lot has changed for Sheeran since his last album release back in 2019. The singer has aged, now a mere thirty-year-old and is a husband and a father to a little girl. The first song, “Tides” gives a recap of all that has happened in his life, similar to another song of his, titled “Eraser” from his older album, “÷.”
Likewise, Sheeran recently lost a close friend back in March. Sheeran wrote “Visiting Hours” in this album for this friend, explaining that he missed him and wished he could tell him about everything he is missing. As the album progresses, there are other notable songs too.
Defying expectations and innovating sounds are not a new concept for Sheeran either. In the album, there are a myriad of different familiar sounds, but they have a twist. For example, “Sandman” was written as a lullaby for his baby daughter. In the background, there is an upbeat track, making it sound not like a typical lullaby. But the sway effect and light-hearted words conveys the love and tenderness he has towards his daughter.
“Leave Your Life” opens with a sound that resembles a chain chugging down the tracks. The song depicts one aspect of Sheeran’s job of having to travel and that matches the action of a vehicle people use to travel.
Sheeran’s sound and capability to tell stories have reached a new level through this album. Songs such as “Collide,” “Visiting Hours,” “Tides” and “Overpass Graffiti” depict images that engage the imagination to create its own interpretation. Specifically, the way “Tides” was constructed, it gives an effect of the rapid, yet still movement of a tide.
Moreover, Sheeran has always had an iconic and recognizable voice, though it does not cut through as much in this album. In songs like “Shivers,” “Overpass Graffiti” and “The Joker and The Queen,” his unique tone is still present but less recognizable.
As listeners progress through the album, they are taken on an emotional rollercoaster. From getting a glimpse of hope, to the aftermath of a long past breakup, a sad ballad, to dancing in the club, mourning the loss of a friend and a lullaby. This in some ways can resemble the craziness of life. If listeners start at the beginning of the album like Sheeran asks, “Tides” is presented with a wall of sound describing the present. Then the listener is taken through different experiences and feelings, ending at the “Be Right Now” reminding them to be present and not miss a thing.
The newest addition to his repertoire, Ed Sheeran released his fourteen song album titled “=.” This emotionally charged set gives listeners a glance into his emotions, experiences and life. The struggles of being a new father, a husband and an artist is at the center of this album in a way that brings new depth into the songs. Sheeran both appeals to the heart and the mind throughout the entire album.