It’s been two weeks since the musical return of Edward Christopher Sheeran. On December 12, 2015, a note appeared on his instagram account. It informed everyone reading that he would be taking a personal sabbatical from his phone, emails, and all social media “for a while.” He said the phrase “See you all next autumn” which many took to mean Fall 2016. We entered a new year and there were sporadic sightings of the elusive musical genius all over the world, most notably his appearance at his bestie Taylor Swift’s annual Fourth of July extravaganza. Fall 2016 came and turned into the holidays. Still no sign of a return. Then on December 12, 2016, exactly a year since his farewell note, a blue square appeared with no caption. Fans of Ed and fans of music alike immediately speculated. Blue was significant in that both of Sheeran’s previous albums have had a bold color theme. His first LP + (plus) was orange and his second X (multiply) was green. Blue had to be the color of his new album, right?
On New Year’s Day, a video with no sound appeared with Ed smiling, waving and holding a sign that said “New Music Coming Friday”. THAT sent everyone into a tizzy. There was rampant speculation in multiple music publications and a virtual meltdown on social media. Would it be a single? A whole album? A music video? No one knew. His manager remained vague but funny in his twitter responses, coyly shutting down rumours. The next day, another video without sound appeared, displaying a fading divide symbol. Since Ed is keen on albums with math titles, the assumption was that it was the album’s name. This continued until January 5 when we finally got two videos, each with a different beat.
FINALLY on January 6, we were blessed with new music in the form of not one, but TWO new singles, titled Castle on the Hill and Shape of You. The two songs were polar opposites. In an interview that day, he confirmed that he released two singles from his upcoming album, which would be called (Divide), because the album is a “bit schizophrenic” in that the songs it contains sample from a number of different genres.
Castle on the Hill is a gorgeous rolling song done on acoustic guitar and drums and all other “traditional” instruments, which is Classic Ed™. The man has a way with words and this particular tune is no exception. It’s essentially a love song to his hometown in Suffolk, England. His voice caresses the listener’s ears like a warm blanket on the verses and on the chorus. When his gravelly rasp finally makes its appearance, you feel it down to your toes. Before you know it, you’re singing along at the top of your lungs in your car. It’s a perfect song for a road trip with old friends.
Some of my favorite lyrics from Castle are “take me back to when I/Found my heart and broke it here/Made friends and lost them through the years” and “But these people raised me and I can’t wait to go home”. It’s a song about home and even if you’re not from Suffolk (most of us aren’t) you can’t help but feel nostalgic.
On the other end of the Spectrum of Ed™ (it’s a thing, ok?) is Shape of You, which rocks a sexy dance beat infused with steel drums and paired with lyrics that would sound just as good on an acoustic guitar arrangement. Like I said, the man has a way with words. Where Castle is a ballad with a variety of lyrics, Shape of You is more repetitive, with sultry and sweet lyrics that are meant to seduce. It’s sexy, giving praise to a woman’s body without being lewd, but also talks about a date consisting of sweet n sour chicken and a taxi cab.
Some of my favorites from Shape of You are “Come over and start up a conversation with just me/And trust me I’ll give it a chance now”, “Your love was handmade for somebody like me/Come on now, follow my lead” and the pre-chorus “I’m in love with the shape of you/We push and pull like a magnet do/Although my heart is falling too/I’m in love with your body/And last night you were in my room/And now my bed sheets smell like you/Every day discovering something brand new/I’m in love with your body.”
Simply put, if you haven’t listened to these new songs yet, or his music at all, I implore you to. Sheeran is one of the best musicians of our generation and he’s just getting started.
If you feel like getting lost in the promo rush and all of his interviews, we recommend looking through Sheeran-USA on Tumblr.