Here it is!
My first ever album review, and it only seems right that it’s Ed Sheeran’s incredible debut ‘+’. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve loved Ed for quite a while now, so to see this record go straight to Number 1 is stunning. I could quite easily make a case that he is the best British songwriter of the last decade. The hardest working man in the music industry bar none.
The album was produced almost entirely by Jake Gosling, someone who has been working with Ed for years now and the baby in their wonderful relationship is this wonderful album.
The track which brought Ed into the mainstream is, quite suitably, the opener to the album. The song was written after Ed met a woman named ‘Angel’ at a homeless shelter at Christmas and tells a brutally honest and heart-wrenching story of a life dominated by drugs and prostitution. This song was first featured on his Loose Change EP, and hasn’t changed since. It’s nice to see that such a beautiful song hasn’t been tampered with or over-produced.
“We’re just under the upper hand
And go mad for a couple of grams
And she don’t want to go outside tonight
And in a pipe she flies to the Motherland
Or sells love to another man”
Then follows a more upbeat song, which showcases not only Ed’s extreme vocal talent, but his rapping and unbelievably clever lyrics. It’s a break-up song, which is easily relatable in itself, but Ed brings in the angle of turning to alcohol to deal with such an event to bring it even more to life. Alcohol seems to be a recurring theme through the entire album, as we will discover as we continue.
“I wanna be drunk when I wake up
On the right side of the wrong bed”
First distributed to the public through the One Take EP, U.N.I is another relatable break-up song, this time telling the story of one of the couple going off to university and the other quickly realising that the relationship will no longer work. Another chilled and mellow tune on the album, in which Ed’s rapping and vocal strengths are given centre-stage. Very slick production here from Gosling and superb lyrics from Mr. Sheeran, as per.
“I found your hairband on my bedroom floor,
The only evidence that you’ve been here before
And I don’t get waves of missing you anymore,
They’re more like tsunami tides in my eyes”
Then follows another more upbeat song – Grade 8 uses a brilliantly clever analogy of likening a partner to an expert guitar player – simple but genius. This song is one of my many favourites on the album, with another round of sublime production from Gosling, the instruments are layered perfectly together and nothing is over/under-done. I’m running out of adjectives here and I’m only on the fourth song. Poop.
“You’re strumming on my heart-strings
Like you were the grade 8
But I never felt this way,
I’ll pick your feet up off of the ground
And never ever let you down”
Wake Me Up
A real slowdown in the pace of the record, with the stripped-back love song ‘Wake Me Up’. Fun-fact #1: Ed plays the piano himself on this track, which is even more surprising as he claims that he “isn’t a very good piano player”. But this almost seems to add to the simple and delicate nature of the song, which Ed reportedly wrote while drunk by a pool in the US. A charming song, which shows yet another side to the wonderfully versatile Mr. Sheeran. B-e-a-utiful.
“You know I’ve always been shit at computer games
And your brother always beats me
And if I lost, I’d go across
And chuck all the controllers at the TV“
This is quite possibly one of my favourite songs of all time. It tells an incredibly emotional story of a baby dying, and the last verse is one which has almost had me in tears many a time. Amazing production on this track, losing none of the soul and emotion of the original version. I’ve seen videos of him performing this live before, and you can see the story in his eyes – captivating. An obvious single choice for the future.
“Your just a small bump unborn
Just four months then torn from life
Maybe you were needed up there
But were still unaware of why”
The next track on the record is almost as stripped back as ‘Wake Me Up’, and features only Ed and his guitar. Another spectacular vocal performance from Ed, and despite being one of the shortest songs on the album, is just as honest and confessional as any of the others. Yet another beautiful love song.
“This is the start of something beautiful
This is the start of something new
You are the one that makes me lose it all
You are the start of something new”
The album takes a turn of pace here, with the more upbeat track ‘The City’, which Ed wrote when he moved from sleepy Suffolk to the big city of London to pursue a career in music, and was deliberating whether this was a good decision to make. Fun-fact #2: the version of the song featured on the album is the original demo that Ed recorded back in 2008. This song gives an indication as to where he has come from and where he is now – looking back I think we can safely that Ed made the right decision. Great tune.
“The pavement is my friend,
It’ll take me where I need to go,
If I find it trips me up,
And puts me down,
This is not what I’m used to”
Next comes ‘Lego House’, third single to be released from the album. The track feeds on Ed’s apparent obsession with Lego, and couples a chilled-out vibe with witty and intelligent lyrics. It reaches a happy medium between the past two singles, creating almost a third-dimension to Ed’s music. Album’s looking damn good so far. Stunning music.
“I’m gonna pick up the pieces,
And build a Lego house
When things go wrong we can knock it down”
You Need Me, I Don’t Need You
Following on from that is the second single from the album ‘You Need Me’, a track that wasn’t originally intended to be included on the album, but kept as just a live song. But when a live drummer was brought into the equation, Ed decided that it was just too good to leave out. An incredible song, with some of the best lyrics he has ever written. It’s essentially Ed sticking a middle finger up at all of his doubters who said he wouldn’t make it, and who tried to get him to change himself to become successful. This song has gone through a lot of evolution as he has matured, from a rough original demo right through to the single, and you can watch Ed talk you through that progression HERE.
“I’m always doing shows, if I’m not I’m in the studio
Truly broke, never growing up call me Ruffio
Melody music maker
Reading all the papers
They say I’m up and coming like I’m fucking in an elevator”
Here’s the only song on the album not to be produced by Jake Gosling, ‘Kiss Me’. It was instead written and created during Ed’s time in the US with legendary producer No I.D, who has worked with some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop during his time. The American influence is evident on the song, with a guitar solo in the middle of the song which wouldn’t sound out of place on a country song. Ed has said that this “would make a perfect first dance song” and it’s not hard to see why. Simply amazing.
“I was made to keep your body warm
But I’m cold as, the wind blows
So hold me in your arms”
Give Me Love
Another incredible track to bring the album to a close, and one which Ed said was his favourite on the album to write. And that enthusiasm shows, as he creates an almost anthemic song, complete with strings, powerful vocals and an incredibly catchy chorus. I can imagine this tune will go down sensationally well live with audiences far and wide. The song then ascends into what The House of Coxhead describes as “like an African tribe is going up against an American gospel choir in a sing off” – couldn’t have put it better myself. Flawless.
“Give a little time to me, we’ll burn this out,
We’ll play hide and seek, to turn this around,
All I want is the taste that your lips allow”
To conclude, this is an absolutely faultless debut from Ed Sheeran, a ridiculously talented man, who has the world at his feet – I mean, the guy’s only 20!
As Ed Sheeran might say:
“This is the start of something new”.
(And if you haven’t bought Ed’s album yet, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING? Download it from iTunes HERE).