Ed Sheeran took a year off. He got rid of social media, communicating solely through email, and traveled the world with his girlfriend. He came back, finished up ÷, and has recently released it. The following is a breakdown of each song, pulled from an interview (which will be in a link in Part 2), in which Ed addresses Divide track-to-track.
As Ed says, he “couldn’t have made a better album.”
Track 1, and Ed hits us with verses upon verses of what he calls “verbal vomit.” The words strike with such rawness and realness. Almost the first whole minute is simply Ed spitting bars about fame, money, and the “trappings of the industry.”
Ed wrote this song in his treehouse the same night he wrote “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here.” He says “there’s so much that has happened to me in the last 5 years that I haven’t been able to talk about.” A great kick start to ÷, “Eraser” packs a punch for sure.
Castle on a Hill
Here we have a single that was released in January. A classic roll-your-windows-down-a-country-road Sheeran song. Most of his friends cried when they first heard it, and it’s his dad’s favorite song on the album (probably because he actually lives near the castle on the hill). Ed remarked that he was influenced by Snow Patrol, and that he had the idea of doing a reflective song for a while. He said he thought, “No one’s done this reflective thing! And then that Lukas Graham song came on- and I was like, aaaah!”
Ahh, now we’re chilling it out a bit after a couple hard-hitting tracks. A great ballad filled with Ed’s underrated belting skills. A classic beat with some very unique melodies and lines like:
So don’t call me baby
Unless you mean it
Don’t tell me you need me
If you don’t believe it
So let me know the truth
Before I dive right into you
When asked about this song, Ed said “that’s hard to sing.” Understandable. But he did it great, didn’t he? “It was meant to be sung falsetto. I was in the kitchen belting it out and Benny (Benny Blanco, producer) was like- ‘that’s how you’re meant to sing it!’.”
Another surprise in this song was the background female vocal. Out of nowhere, a woman named Jessie Ware (who did vocals for 3 songs and co-wrote “New Man”), comes in. Ed confessed that none of his managers and no one at the label agreed with adding her in (it had never happened before on a song of his), but he insisted.
Well I found a woman, stronger than anyone I know
She shares my dreams, I hope that someday I’ll share her home
I found a love, to carry more than just my secrets
To carry love, to carry children of our own
We are still kids, but we’re so in love, fighting against all odds
I know we’ll be alright this time
Darling just hold my hand, be my girl, I’ll be your man
I see my future in your eyes
Before writing this soft, classic love song, Ed said that his mindset was “I need to write the best love song of my career, and I need to do it %100 me.” Ed’s mission was to beat his hit “Thinking Out Loud,” and ended up writing, singing and producing what he sees as his best song yet.
Talking about his current girlfriend and childhood sweetheart Cherry Seaborn, he admits that he is “really happy, really comfortable,” and has “never been more inspired.”
A personal favorite of mine, and apparently Ed’s as well. About this ode to Ireland, he said “That’s like my favorite one. My whole album is my favorite one, but that one I was so excited to come out!”
For those who don’t know, Galway is a harbor city in Ireland. Ed had an Irish folk band called Beoga over at his house to record for some of his songs, and decided to write a song in their style. Some people are speculating that the “Galway Girl” is Niamh Dunne, the fiddler in Beoga, but some facts in her life don’t really match up with the song. Also, Ed has said that this was one of two fictional songs in the album (the other, we have no idea).
“I know there’s like 400 million people in the world that claim Irish, and they’re going to love it, and I can’t wait to put it out there. And also Ireland is my biggest market.” There you go, Ireland. A perfect song all wrapped in a bow.
Ain’t nobody hurt you like I hurt you
But ain’t nobody need you like I do
I know that there’s others that deserve you
But my darling I am still in love with you
“When you’ve had your first relationship or second relationship when you’re young and it ends, you’re so bitter about it and I get to sort of… look at exes in their relationships and think ‘she actually looks happier than she’d be if she were with me’,” Ed said, when asked to explain the feeling that this song stemmed from.
“It was a kind of epiphany moment,” he commented, comparing it a little to Adele’s “Someone Like You.” He described meeting the new boyfriend of the girl who his first and second albums were mostly about, and thinking, “he’s so much more suited to her than I ever was.”
Now, this song is just plain funny. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and proof that Ed can put things like Instagram stalking, kale, Kardashians, and eyebrow plucking into a song and still make you dance.
But still, I’m just keeping it real, still looking at your Instagram and I’ll be creeping a little
I’ll be trying not to double tap, from way back, cause I know that’s where the trouble’s at
Let me remind of the days when you used to hold my hand
And when we sipped champagne out of cider cans
I guess if you were Lois Lane, I wasn’t superman, just a young boy trying to be loved
So let me give it to you
About this song, Ed said “I was basically like, let’s write a list of like- you know when your ex leaves you and the first guy she gets with- what that guy is like.”
Apparently this was going to be a bonus track (Ed wanted “Save Myself” to be in its place), but the management insisted on putting it in the top 12, and I’m glad he did.
Hearts Don’t Break Round Here
Ed did say that this was his favorite song of the album, but by this time he’s said that about maybe 3 or 4 tracks, sooooo we’re just going to accept the fact that he can’t show favoritism with his babies. That’s okay.
This track came a bit later, and was an “Ed production” as well, meaning that it was %100 Ed-produced, written and recorded. He wrote it on his kitchen table, remarking that he often “finds the best songs- like happier- where it’s not structured.”
What Do I Know?
This song was Ed’s way of having a say in politics.
We could change this whole world with a piano
Add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat and away we go
I’m just a boy with a one man show
No university no degree but lord knows
Everybody’s talking about exponential growth
And the stock market crashing and their portfolios
While I’ll be sitting here with a song that I wrote
Saying love could change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Many a British artist can get confused about the craziness of American politics. I mean, even American politicians can get confused about it sometimes. I don’t know about you, but I love how Ed has put his two cents in. He describes this song as a “knee-jerk reaction” to what happened last year. “It’s me looking at the world and being like, we’re not doing too well here, are we?” I appreciate Ed giving us some perspective, and as always, backed up by a catchy beat.
How Would You Feel
I was a little iffy about the new album when I heard “Shape Of You”- I thought, this could go either way. I hoped Ed hadn’t gotten sucked into the swirling vortex of pop music. But after hearing this song, I was confident that Ed would never do that to us.
Another classic love song to add to Ed’s collection of perfect wedding songs. He was asking Cherry what her favorite song of the album was, and she replied with, “my favorite song, you don’t even know it exists.” So, she found it in her email and played it to him. As it turns out, he had written it a while back, recorded it on his iPhone, sent it to her, and forgotten about it. Thanks to his girlfriend, we get to enjoy this gorgeous ballad.
Another fun fact! Ed said that while he was trying to get the guitar solo down, he wasn’t satisfied and kept thinking about how only John Mayer could do it well. And since he’s lucky enough to have John’s number, he called him up. The brilliant guitar solos that you are graced with in this track is the John Mayer.
The last song and the four bonus tracks will be covered in Part 2.