Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran performing.

Ed Sheeran’s latest album “Divide” certainly lives up to its title. With content ranging from epic love songs to cultural celebrations and styles covering everything from classic ballads to Irish anthems, the album pulled my emotions in so many different directions.

Despite the unique quality of each song, Sheeran somehow manages to artfully blend each piece into a cohesive collection — one that I consider his best work yet.

“Castle on a Hill” is a beautiful, modern anthem written as a nod of appreciation to Sheeran’s hometown of Suffolk, England. The driving beat of the guitars laced with Sheeran’s reminiscent voice mix perfectly and stir up nostalgic moments of my childhood. It made me want to run around the grassy fields of Suffolk or take a roadtrip back to my own hometown in Pennsylvania to relive the memories.

“Shape of You” proved to be a little more disappointing, but is still noteworthy. Although the song has a catchy beat that makes for ample radio music, it sounds like too much of a cliché pop song for someone of his caliber. Thankfully, he redeemed himself with his funky, stripped down version at the Grammy Awards that was much more reflective of his persona.

When the full album was released on March 3, the remaining songs proved to be just as captivating.

Sheeran’s love songs never fail to disappoint, but his sampling on “Divide” is so refreshing from the timeless yet slightly overplayed “Thinking Out Loud.” The album packs plenty of emotional ballads, including tracks “Dive,” “Perfect” and “How Would You Feel (Paean).”

“Dive” offers a jazzy vibe with background guitars that carry an unmistakable sense of vulnerability. Sheeran belts out the chorus, singing “Don’t call me baby / unless you mean it” in an emotional cry laden with his trademark riffs.

Sheeran’s dreamy voice follows on “Perfect,” a touching tribute to his girlfriend, Cherry Seaborn. The way Sheeran describes his love actually brought tears to my sappy, old-school romantic eyes. He describes Seaborn as an “angel in person,” which — cheesiness aside — is completely adorable.

Sheeran sings another ode to Seaborn on “How Would You Feel (Paean).” Paean means a work that honors its subject, and also happens to be Seaborn’s middle name. He basically considers his girlfriend to be a goddess worthy of his praise and sings a song honoring her name. Swoon.

Intermixed with his notorious love ballads are some of Sheeran’s less hyped-up tracks that display his clever singing and songwriting talents, despite falling a bit under the radar.

The opening song “Eraser” embodies this quality and shows that Sheeran’s rapping is just as impressive as his angelic voice. I think this is partially due to the hints of his British accent, but his skills shouldn’t be overlooked. The chorus has a bit of a chilling tone as he sings “I’m well aware of certain things that can destroy a man like me.” It ends with a strange pronunciation of the word “eraser,” making it sound almost like “a razor.” These little quirks give Sheeran’s music an edge and offer more than the surface-level meaning of other artists.

“New Man” isn’t my favorite song sound-wise, but Sheeran manages to make the lyrics utterly comical, to the point where I was audibly laughing. He describes an ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend with a series of spot-on stereotypes about the “new man.” My favorite line is “He wears sunglasses indoors, in winter, at nighttime,” but the entire song is basically an endless slew of these hilarious digs.

Sheeran’s album is further divided with a set of culturally inspired songs, including Irish, Spanish and Ghanaian influences.

The folk vibes of “Nancy Mulligan,” complete with a fiddle, provide an adventurous background to the “Romeo and Juliet” love story of Sheeran’s grandparents, told from the perspective of his grandfather.

“Galway Girl” has the same traditional Irish flair with an infectious energy that makes you want to visit an Irish pub and dance the night away. With lyrics like “I walked her home and then she took me inside / To finish some Doritos and a bottle of wine,” Sheeran shows his artistry in creating clever but relatable lyrics.

Barcelona needs to make a tourism ad and Sheeran’s “Barcelona” needs to be the background track. His pronunciation of Spanish words like “Sagrada Familia” and “mamacita” are absolutely golden combined with the rhythmic beat. Sheeran’s Spanish tone is unexpected given the British and Irish vibe he protrudes, but it totally works and makes both Sheeran and the song even more charming.

Whether it’s his heartfelt love songs or internationally inspired tracks or funky rap/pop combos, Sheeran produced an album that is sure to have a lasting impact among listeners. Let’s just hope he doesn’t “subtract” any of his talents on the next album.

Nicolette Chuss is a sophomore communication sciences and disorders major. Contact Nicolette at chussns@dukes.jmu.edu.