Ed Sheeran has released Divide, his third studio album. The deluxe LP edition features 16 tracks spanning 59 minutes.
Divide follows Sheeran's previous full-length albums Multiply (2014) and Plus (2011), and about 10 EPs released before that going back to 2005. He has also had a prolific career as a songwriter and collaborator.
Overall, this is an LP that should satisfy Sheeran fans and might even help him cross over into new audiences. Already, "Shape Of You" is one of the biggest hits of Sheeran's career. As he fuses R&B, gospel, and many other styles of music, there is no denying that Sheeran makes soulful music with wide pop appeal. "Barcelona" is a revelation, with Sheeran singing in Spanish and bringing a raw energy reminiscent of Michael Jackson's more rocking moments.
Having said that, Divide is a flawed album. Beginning with that hit single, "Shape of You," the lyrics are about superficial love and the tune sounds derivative of Sia's "Cheap Thrills." While the songs are well-intentioned and executed with precision, it is hard to balance the soft ballads with the arrogant hip hop verses. It isn't until the final third of the album when each song seems to build and reveal something new and interesting.
After all, it is 2017 and music consumption revolves around songs more than albums. There are certainly a lot of good songs here, but depending on your tastes you may finding yourself skipping more than a few. Going forward, Sheeran would be better served to take a page from the great artists and use his voice to address real problems like war, poverty, and countless other things happening right now around the world.
Divide is currently available on Amazon. You can also stream the full album for free above, via Spotify.
Ed has also announced 2017 tour dates that will find him traveling in Europe, Ireland, Scotland, England, and Central and South America. For more, check out the Ed Sheeran Zumic artist page.