Ed Sheeran finally dropped his Album, Divide. The product of over a year of work, this 16-track masterpiece brings listeners along on the journey of its creation. Sheeran has stated in many interviews that he spent 12 months offline traveling the world and working with musicians in a variety of genres. Here’s the track by track breakdown.
Ed Sheeran opens up the album with his usual melodramatic tone. He warns about the dangers of fame and how people expect celebrities to be happy all the time because they’re living their dream. As he essentially tells his bartender all of his problems, Sheeran explains that it’s still hard work. He closes the song with an outro not present in the live recording he posted a week before the album release. In a rather meta way, he speaks directly to the listener and welcomes them to “the new show. I guess you know I’ve been away.”
2. Castle On The Hill.
Released early January, this track started the anticipation of the full album. See this article that was already written about the upbeat, nostalgic song that fits with the sound we’ve come to expect from Ed.
The only way to describe this track is jazzy and just a little bit saucy. It relies heavily on bass and a soft trap set. The lyrics seem to ask the listener if he can trust them. Before getting into a relationship it is important to know what the other is expecting. Trust must come before falling in love. “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.” This song hits right at the point where you are deciding to either commit to the rest of the album or fly.
4. Shape of You.
This track was also released in early January, leaving fans all over the world bopping along to the bass-driven song. The electronic sound was not something people associated with Ed and the youtube video on Sheeran’s channel is littered with mixed feelings. However, it’s top ranking on Hot 100 tells us otherwise. Look at this article for a more in-depth review.
“Perfect” is reminiscent of “Thinking Out Loud”, the most popular first dance song at weddings ever, according to Glamour Magazine and Spotify. Just two songs after Dive, it’s clear Sheeran has chosen to fall for his love, hard. The orchestration behind his guitar and smooth vocals are enough to make any girl fall in love with the ginger vocalist/musician. He knows that they will be just fine because they are so in love and he sees his future in her eyes. “I don’t deserve this. Darling, you look perfect tonight.” Most people only dream of this kind of love. Who knows, maybe this will be the choice track for weddings around the world this year?
6. Galway Girl.
Although many wanted to remove the Irish songs from the album before its release for fear of not selling, it’s clear this track was a fan favorite. It shot straight to the top of the charts in Ireland, not three hours after the album was released. The strong beat brings the mood of the album up after Perfect. The The fiddle gives it a playful tone, something most people can get behind, as Sheeran talks about new infatuation and this wonderfully relaxed girl who knows how to have a good time.
Honestly, it’s like Ed couldn’t let us stay as pumped as we were for the last song. This track brings the mood back down as Sheeran sees an old lover with having a new fling. It reminds of the feelings he still has for her, but he wants her to be happier with the New Man. He isn’t over her yet and everything is reminding him of her. “I guess you look happier, you do. My friends told me one day I’ll feel it, too.… I know I was happier with you.” The somber longing for the past leaves the audience wondering who inspired this song that ends with Sheeran promising to always wait for her.
8. New Man.
Bringing back the sassy tone we associate with him, Sheeran talks to his old lover who is in a relationship but still texts him. The new lover sounds like the perfect guy to many girls. He’s fit and he’s a good guy, but Sheeran calls her out because he finds both of them to be shallow. The girl has changed since they dated. Sheeran comes back from Happier by saying, “I don’t wanna know about your new man ‘cause if it was meant to be, you wouldn’t be calling me up…”
9. Hearts Don’t Break Around Here
Taking it back down (Jeez, is Ed trying to give us whiplash?) this song reminds us of the softer angles of love. “Every night I’ll kiss you, you’ll say in my ear: Oh, we’re in love aren’t we?” This girl is basically the center of his life according to this song; he portrays new love through soft guitar with and floral metaphors. It’s safe and beautiful, hearts don’t break around here. Nothing that they have to face will be too much, they can take anything the world shows them.
10. What Do I Know?
Starting with bass and vocals, Sheeran shows us his optimistic side. Music can fix everything. He wants to raise his children with it and show them the love the world can show. The economy may crash, but there are bigger, more important things in life. “Spread love, understanding, positivity.” Music is the secret to solving the world’s problems, but what do any of us really know?
11. How would you feel?
The song that came just two days after Valentine’s had many of us falling for this album all over again. Read here for an in-depth review.
12. Supermarket Flowers.
On a somber note, Sheeran talks about the loss of his grandmother. He had to put away the items that belonged to her. As he throws away the supermarket flowers his family has received from people paying their respects, he hopes “that I see the world as you did because I know a life we love is a life that’s been lived.”
As a part of his travels, Sheeran got to see Spain and experience the nightlife. This upbeat song mimics the dance music of Barcelona and begs the listener to move and enjoy the night. “Let’s pretend we’re dancing in the street of Barcelona.” The lyrics are subtly infused with Spanish which gives it a unique flair. Instead of Sheeran’s usual references to whiskey or beer, he throws in a few lines about Sangria, the sweet Spanish wine. He must have enjoyed his trip to Barcelona to be inspired to write this.
14. Bibia Be Ye Ye
On another trip, Sheeran went to Ghana. He talks about having a good time one night and waking up the next morning not remembering it. He could let this get him down, but he chooses to be optimistic and enjoy where he is. This song clearly has African influence, something fans loved in the comments on the youtube video. “Someone told me always what’s on your mind and I am only being honest with you. I get lonely and make mistakes from time to time. Se enioma enko ye (if things aren’t working out) Bibia Be Ye Ye (everything will be alright)!”
15. Nancy Mulligan.
The other Irish-influenced track on the album, Nancy Mulligan, received a bit less attention but has a unique story through the lyrics. The fiddle throughout brings together the lyrics for each verse. According to Bustle, this story is about how his Grandparents met. Against all odds based on religion and nationality, they fell in love. In 1951, a young dentist named Bill Sheeran married Anne Mulligan, a fiddle player and nurse.
16. Save Myself.
Backed by members of The Orchestra of Ireland, Sheeran looks back on all of himself that he gave to others. But, he comes to the realization “Farewell. So before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself.” The ballad gives the listener chills as he talks about how he’s given so much of himself to others in the same way his mother did, but he’s going to take care of himself before he cares for another. “Before I love someone else, I’ve got to love myself.”
The album was released midday EST on Friday, March 3. But, in true Sheeran fashion, he released all of the tracks on youtube the next day.
Tickets for the North American leg of the tour are available March 17th to the general public. What a way to start this new era in Ed Sheeran’s career