Ed Sheeran has made a name for himself over the past few years, with his first two albums garnering critical acclaim. His third album, “Divide,” has become his highest selling album in only a couple of weeks, though this might also be Sheeran’s safest album yet.
The style and sound of this album are typical of his work on his second record, “x.” Stripped back acoustic ballad songs on “Divide,” like “Perfect” or “How Would You Feel (Paean),” show his signature style, but other tracks lighten the mood with more pop/pseudo-rap songs ala “Eraser” or the lead single “Shape of You.”
That’s not to say this album stays in his comfort zone the whole time. “Castle on the Hill” goes for a sweeping, rock-esque chorus, while “Galway Girl” is accented with Irish fiddles, an instrument that is not heard often in Sheeran’s tunes. However, with plenty of acoustic love ballads lining the album, some of the songs can blend together. Sheeran’s strength as an artist comes more through his lyrics. Although, he does a decent job overall.
In “Divide,” Sheeran continues to address his issues with alcohol abuse with the opening track “Eraser,” the eraser in this case being the cocktails he drinks to ease his pain. “Castle on the Hill” takes a more nostalgic turn as he reminisces on his friends and his hometown while driving down the country roads of his town. The emotional highlight of the album is “Supermarket Flowers,” an homage to Ed’s late grandmother that caps off the album, much how the equally heartbreaking “Afire Love” finished off “Multiply.”
Overall, “Divide” may be a safe record from Sheeran, but the album itself is still lyrically strong and offers up its fair share of good songs. For those that want a decent selection of acoustic ballads and pop songs, “Divide” will shape up to your needs.