c-edreview

On Oct. 29, four-time Grammy winner Ed Sheeran released his fourth solo studio album “=,” pouring out his love for his wife and daughter into the lyrics of the tracks that make up this latest collection.

It’s been four years since Sheeran released his wildly popular solo album “÷.” In the time since that release, he’s become both a husband and a father, which seems to have influenced a vast majority of the songs on this new album. “=” not only fits in with the math symbol title theme that Sheeran has been following since his first studio album “+,” but it perfectly encapsulates the feelings of contentment and happiness in his life.

The opening song, “Tides,” does an exemplary job of setting the tone for the rest of “=,” and showing listeners what they can expect. The title refers to the changes we all experience throughout our lives, and the first verse explains how Sheeran has experienced change and matured over time saying, “I have grown up, I am a father now / Everything has changed, but I am still the same somehow.” Aside from the phenomenal meaning, the song itself is very melodious and happy, making it a delight to the ears. This song makes it clear that he has not only matured in his personal life, but in his music as well.

“Bad Habits” and “Shivers,” two tracks from the album, were released as singles prior to the album drop. Both have already had great success, and it’s no surprise why. These songs feature upbeat tempos as well as catchy choruses, making them a joy to listen to. They also contribute to the overall themes of the album. “Bad Habits” is reminiscent of previous mistakes Sheeran might have made before maturing, while “Shivers” is all about butterflies and sparks flying.

Out of the many wonderful love songs on this album, I feel the most notable are “First Times,” “Collide” and “Love In Slow Motion.” 

“First Times” is a slower track that’s all about how memorable Sheeran’s “first” moments with his wife were and how he looks forward to all the “firsts” that are yet to come with her. This is the kind of song people dream of having written about them. 

“Collide” is a cheerful, high-tempo song about how his wife’s love brings him to life when they’re together. It’s hard not to smile when you listen to the beautiful words and rejuvenating backbeat. 

“Love In Slow Motion” is another upbeat track about enjoying being in the presence of the one you love and spending time with one another. The pre-chorus melts perfectly into the chorus, slowing the song down before speeding it up, making the music feel like a graceful dance between give and take. This song is one of my favorites on the album because of that push and pull in the music and because the lyrics overtake me with carefree joy. 

Other noteworthy songs from the album include “Overpass Graffiti,” “Stop the Rain,” “Visiting Hours” and “Be Right Now.” Each of these songs have different meanings, but still contribute to the overriding themes explored on “=” and flow nicely with the set as a whole. 

One track, “Sandman,” stands out because it’s explicitly written for Sheeran’s daughter. It’s not one that I would add to my playlist because it’s very clearly a lullabye meant for a younger audience, but it’s a very special and personal song that’s important for the theme of the album because having a child has greatly contributed to recent changes in his life. 

My least favorite tracks on the album include “The Joker And The Queen,” “Leave Your Life” and “2step.” Although each of these tracks do a great job of contributing to the overall flow and idea of “=,” they’re much less remarkable than the other songs because they lack the same lyrical or musical substance.

I thought this album was a great way for Sheeran to come back after his break. It was personal and contained so many beautifully enticing lyrics, as well as memorable and captivating beats that create a more mature sound overall than in his past albums. Although there are hints of his old music style sprinkled throughout the album with songs that have a folk-pop feel to them or rap infused into the track, the collection as a whole has a more grown-up sound than past releases. It’s well worth the time it takes to listen to these new tracks.

culture@dailynebraskan.com