Ed Sheeran- x

By Aminta Nieves-Candamo

Published on Sunday, July 20, 2014

While Sheeran began to be known in the US in 2012, he’s been recording music since 2005, releasing independent EP’s he would sell out of his backpack at shows when moved to London and started playing in very small venues. Then in 2009 he debuted the song “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” on another EP that got him invited to tour with with English DJ “Just Jack” and then the adventure began.

He’s known to work often with other artists, one of the most notorious collaborations would be the guest appearance on Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album Red and songs like “Moments” and “Little Things” he wrote for One Direction. At the time he was supporting the North American leg of the Fallen Empires Tour in 2012, Ed wrote songs with Johnny McDaid from Snow Patrol in hotel rooms. He also worked with Irish singer/songwriter and frequent tour-mate Foy Vance, penning multiple potential songs for the album. Two and a half years on tour, went by and it was time to focus on recording his new album, that was originally projected to be released on February 2014. After writing hundreds of songs and virtually making another acoustic record, Sheeran couldn’t turn down working with producers Rick Rubin and Benny Blanco, who helped to cut and shape down to the 15 new songs that feature on the album.

The opening track for Multiply, One became the second promotional single on May 16, once again he directs all his emotionally passive aggressive rage (while throwing falsettos everywhere) to the one that got away from previous releases, basically for not waiting for him. “Would you take away my hopes and dreams and just stay with me”. I’m A Mess showcases one of the most authentic Sheeran traits, no one turns a broken heart + horrible night out + what sounds like the most random one night stand into a beautiful acoustic ballad like Ed can… by the way, he wrote this one in the shower.

The album’s lead single,Sing was released on 7 April 2014, was one of the songs produced by Pharrell Williams, who is also singing on the track. Purposely Justin Timberlake-influenced, featuring a more upbeat tone and more falsettos, something not at all Sheeran’s usual style but totally catchy, in some occasions he even plays it with a full band and backup singers.


Don’t might be one of the most honest songs Ed Sheeran has ever written, about a not so clear relationship he was sharing someone he hints “But me and her make money the same way, 4 cities 2 planes the same day” who cheated on him with a close friend. The song has been linked to fellow singer Ellie Goulding and a member of One Direction. Originally considered to be the first single to promote X but the line “Don’t fuck with my love” was not suitable for radio. The song almost didn’t make it onto the album since he felt it was “a bit personal.”

Nina first song he wrote with Johnny McDaid and is basically another catchy song where he narrates the story of a love that couldn’t survive because of his career. Photograph another timeless song in which he begs that girl to wait for him, delivering the one line that the whole record is based on: “Loving can hurt sometimes, but it’s the only thing that I know.”

Bloodstream in a clever romantic way, Sheeran (with the help of McDaid and Gary Lightbody) shares his experience of taking MDMA during a friend’s wedding party. The guitars and harmonies on this song are quite addicting. Tenerife Sea” which debuted in demo form at the sold out Madison Square Garden shows, is a trademark acoustic ballad. The 2013 Grammy Awards inspired this song where he felt “a bit left out,” as he was there with his parents and “everyone else was doing drugs”.

“Runaway” incorporates a more R&B sound and those looped vocal bits that are Sheeran’s specialty, is also the second track produced by Pharrell Williams. He shares a bit of an inside look to his relationship with his father: “I love him from my skin to my bones but I don’t wanna live in his home. There’s nothing to say cos he knows, I’ll just runaway and be on my own.”

The Man produced by long-time collaborator Jake Gosling, features Sheeran rapping/talking in what sounds more like him reading poetry compared to the style of Mike Skinner/The Streets with a more bluesy hook on which he takes back everything he says throughout the song. The song focuses on that failed relationship he keeps mourning, while touching on the possibilities of marriage, his fear of chemical dependency and dying young. “Thinking Out Loud” was last song written for the album, claiming it his favorite. He describes it as a “soul” song and as the ‘walking down the aisle’ song. He also characterizes it as “the only happy song on the album,” which he wrote in his kitchen.

Afire Love he wrote part of this song about his grandfather (the only person in his family who could also sing) who had suffered with Alzheimer’s disease for twenty years, “two weeks before he passed away,” and finished the song at his funeral. It explains the aftermath of his death, with his family reuniting for the funeral, and explains the deep love between his grandparents. Fun fact about this song: both Courteney Cox and her daughter Coco Arquette provided additional vocals and gang percussion.

Take It Back is the first track exclusive to the deluxe edition. He claims not to be a rapper, whilst delivering verses in what seem to be one breath, very similar to his previous single “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” he talks about his personal struggles and his rise to fame. I would say this is a “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” updated.

Ed was asked to write a song for the end credits of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug by director Peter Jackson (whose daughter was a fan of Sheeran’s work) who flew him to New Zealand to watch it. Then he wrote what became the first single he released in two years “I See Fire.” The majority of it was written in a single day, he also performed all the instruments (apart from the cello) including a violin, which he taught himself to play for the song. The track was produced by Sheeran himself and was released on November 5th, 2013 as the first single from the official soundtrack and later was added to the digital deluxe version of x.

The physical deluxe version has a 17th track, “All of the Stars,” the song used in the credits for the film The Fault in Our Stars. Also the track “Friends” was released online and featured as a B side to the Australian release of “Sing,” but not featured on the actual album.

For all of those collectors out there, the physical versions of the album are a fun one to own. Its been released featuring the artwork and packaging in a all green theme (like “+” was all orange). There’s a really cool (online exclusive) Green Double 12″ Vinyl and the X (Special Edition CD Box-set) that comes in a green jewel case and comes with all kinds X themed goodies.

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X was released worldwide on 23 June 2014 debuting at # 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart and its been certified Platinum in both the UK and New Zealand. If you would like to catch Ed Sheeran on the X – North American Tour the dates have been announced and will be making a stop here on September 6 – Merriweather Post Pavilion Columbia, MD.



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