After four long years, Ed Sheeran is back with a new album, “=” which dropped on Oct. 29. “=” covers what Sheeran has been up to since his 2017 album “Divide” that included wildly successful songs such as “Shape of You” and “Perfect.”
“=” perfectly blends the number of upbeat dance hits with the slower ballads that fans are used to expecting from Sheeran. The topics of the songs covered range from the loss of one of Sheeran’s mentors, to ridding himself of old addictions, the birth of his child and the love he has for his wife.
The album starts with the song “Tides,” an upbeat song catching listeners up to what advice he has learned since his last album. With tones reminiscent of “Castle on the Hill,” it’s the perfect song to introduce you to what to expect. The album continues on the dance high with the popular song “Shivers.” With a toe-tapping beat and fun lyrics such as “dancing till the sunlight cracks,” it’s a step out of the comfort zone for Sheeran, but worth the listen.
The album continues with the lead single “Bad Habits.” Sheeran is known for having edgy lyrics. However, instead of pairing them with a mesmerizing guitar beat, Sheeran chooses synth, feeling like fans are listening to pop rather than the slower acoustic vibes they’re used to hearing.
Giving fans what they want, the following few songs are the stadium ballads played on guitar. Sheeran’s lyricism shines on “The Joker and the Queen,” a slow song packed with card-playing metaphors. The love song is one of several on the album dedicated to his wife. The song describes how his wife could have accepted “hearts who would give her a diamond ring” when she decided to fall in love with him.
Sheeran’s ability to fluctuate his listener’s feelings is impeccable. Once again, he rises with catchy hits. Fans will be enthused to find that Sheeran has not lost his signature guitar beats and combination of singing and rapping.
“2step” talks about a night out on the town and is sure to make listeners get up and dance. “Stop The Rain” brings a ray of sunshine to the album by reassuring that hard times will eventually pass and nothing bad lasts forever. These songs have been compared to those on his signature album “X,” giving fans a feeling of new nostalgia.
As the album starts to close out, Sheeran delivers hard-hitting songs, packing a punch into the last few songs. “Visting Hours” is dedicated to his mentor Michael Gudinski who passed away in March of 2021. The soulful lyrics are sure to tug on the heartstrings and make listeners shed a few tears. Right before the album wraps up, “Sandman” is Sheeran’s lullaby dedicated to his newborn daughter, patching up the sadness of “Visting Hours.”
Sheeran’s latest album is nothing short of a masterpiece, if not one of the best albums he’s put out. Several accolades are sure to be present in Sheeran’s future as he delivers the promise that love and loss are, in fact, equals.
Header Photo: This cover image released by Atlantic Records shows “Equals” the latest album by Ed Sheeran. (Atlantic Records via AP)