Review of Divide (÷)

It’s been about three years since Ed Sheeran released his last album, X, and it's been almost six years since his debut album, +, came out. After much waiting, we were blessed with yet another beautifully crafted album: Divide (÷). In just one week, the album became the best-selling record of 2017- nothing unexpected.

Regardless of age or background of the listener, there is something in Sheeran's music that can appeal to everyone. A sense of humbleness, a dash of innocence, and a certain rawness that is unmistakably Ed Sheeran characterizes his repertoire. Sheeran crafts each of his songs from his personal experiences and each emotion can be felt through his lyrics and musical accompaniment.

Divide (÷) doesn't fail to deliver, as Sheeran takes the listener on a journey of regaining connection with your roots, experiencing love and heartbreak, and learning how to love yourself despite the wounds that life inflicts.

The album begins with "Eraser," which features rapping reminiscent of "You need me, I Don't Need You" from Plus (+).

Lyrics like, "I was born inside a small town, I lost that state of mind," and "I guess it's a stereotypical day for someone like me/ Without a nine-to-five-job or a uni degree" captures how Ed Sheeran's life diverged from his peers' and how he subsequently lost track of where he came from.

His nostalgia continues with "Castle on the Hill," one of the two singles he released at the turn of the new year.

Sheeran combines innocence and storytelling as he sings of the passage of time and reminiscences about where his childhood friends are now as adults: “One friend left to sell clothes/ One works down by the coast/ One had two kids but lives alone/ One’s brother overdosed/ One’s already on his second wife/ One’s just barely getting by/ But these people raised me/ And I can’t wait to go home."

Even amongst all the songs of nostalgia and love and loss, Sheeran makes room for something more fun with the second single he released in January: "Shape of You." Upon first listen, it is reminiscent of Sia's "Cheap Thrills," with the familiar beats introducing the catchiest song on the album. The lyrics are simple and repetitive, but it doesn't get old.

"Bibia Be Ye Ye," partially written in the Ghanian language of Twi, is another fun tune amongst some of the heavier songs. It's as carefree as the Caribbean and African beats that accent it.

“Se enioma enko ye/ bibia be ye ye," translated as "if things aren't going well, all will be well" highlights the breezy nature of the song.

Ed completes his album with "Save Myself," which is the most self-realizing track on the list. Beginning with just a simple piano and Sheeran's solemn and sweet voice, the song presents the conclusion Sheeran has reached after the past few years of life-changing levels of success, changing relationships, and the way he dealt with it by trying to numb the pain.

Truly honing in on the message of self-love that this album sends, Sheeran ends the song with "And before I love someone else, I've got to love myself."

Divide (÷) captures the journey Sheeran has endured these past few years. If you haven't yet listen to Sheeran's latest album, I highly recommend do, regardless of what genre of music you typically listen to. The rawness of human emotion that comes through is something everyone can identify with.

Originally published on by Anika Raju on 4.2.2017.

CultureAnika Raju