Ed Sheeran set to take 2017 by storm

Pippa Smith 9 January 2017

2017 had barely breathed its first breath when a fresh-faced Ed Sheeran came clattering onto my Twitter timeline with a goofy wave and a sign promising new music. Not too shabby a start for this year’s music scene. As promised, I woke up Friday morning with every form of social media possible flooded with two shiny new singles by the acclaimed singer/songwriter. Personally, I’d have preferred a full album to get my teeth into but I guess that wouldn’t be as effective marketing so I’ll settle for this.

The first of the duo, ‘Shape of You’ is a slinky downbeat track that is pretty easy on the ears. It’s classily produced, not that I’d expect any less, and puts a fresh twist on Sheeran’s songs of the past such as ‘Don’t’ or ‘Nina’. There’s also slight vibes of The Weeknd here and this song is just crying out for numerous club remixes in the months to come. Sheeran revealed he originally wrote this for Rhianna which is evident in the song’s underlying tone. The lyrics leave a fair amount to be desired but overall this is a pretty funky teaser to what can be expected from Sheeran in the coming weeks and months.

Ed claimed to treat us to two songs “because I’ve been away a while”, having taken the entirety of 2016 to travel and maintain social media silence. As sweet as this is, our Eddy knows exactly what he’s doing here. ‘Castle on the Hill’ provides a stark musical counterpoint to its companion and their joint release can only be to indicate the skilful variety of style and sound we can expect from the forthcoming album. On the album Sheeran proved he could write a good guitar ballad, with x he diversified to show a wider range of talent, and all signs point to this being replicated on ÷ (I’m also eager to see where this mathematical theme will head by the 6th or 7th album).

‘Castle on the Hill’ is, in my humble opinion, undoubtedly the better of the two tracks. It has a rousing, insistent guitar line which pitches itself somewhere between the roaring banjo of Mumford & Sons and the soft electric of U2. The lyrics sweetly pen a nostalgic ode to home which any university student can surely immediately engage with. A friend dismissed this new release as middle-of-the-road, to which I retorted: “Yes, but good middle of the road.”

It goes without saying that even had these songs been poor quality, they’d still have been fairly well received by the millions of screaming Ed Sheeran fans across the globe. What differentiates this artist, however, from many of his contemporaries is his effortless style and talent. Sheeran co-hosted BBC Radio 1’s breakfast show on Friday morning to promote his songs. I urge any sceptics to watch his live acoustic performance of ‘Castle on the Hill’ and deny the raw passion on display. Something which no amount of endorsement or thirteen year-old followers can create. Hope you send us the full album soon, Ed.