‘X’ hits the spot

Singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran burst into the music scene this summer stronger than ever with his highly anticipated second album “X,” pronounced “multiply.” Filled with everything from sincere romantic ballads to cathartic acoustic beats, a long list of the album’s collaborators include Snow Patrol, Rick Rubin and Pharrell Williams. What started as another acoustic album transformed into a neo-soul-funk record.
The moment the opening track, “One,” began playing, this lyrical genius had clearly upped his game. As with his last album, “+,” Sheeran shrugged off the conventions of mainstream pop and added his own flare. The record is a daring mix of hip-hop style and acoustic rhythm.
With songs based on real-life experiences including “Don’t,” a song about being cheated on (allegedly written about British singer Ellie Goulding), and “Runaway,” a story reflecting on leaving home at the age of 16, it is as though the listener experiences the entire range of emotions with him. In contrast to the Justin Timberlake-inspired falsetto featured in “Sing,” the album elicits emotion with heartfelt ballads, such as “Photograph.” A personal favorite is “Afire Love,” inspired by Sheeran’s grandfather, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Sheeran finished writing the song at his funeral. It describes the aftermath of his death and examines the profound love between his grandparents.
In his second album, Sheeran lays everything out on the table. He exposes his own fears, reveals his vulnerability. The songs delve deeper into Sheeran’s own story, and all the moments in his life that shaped who he is today.  This “singer with a flow” has delivered above and beyond people’s expectations.