Ed Sheeran’s much awaited sophomore album has finally been released world wide and it looks like his music has diverged in the path towards musical maturity, no longer the lovesick guitar strummer. Now he’s proven to be a vengeful, funky and emotional singer with Multiply.
Here’s my track by track review of the album:
Starting off with a similar taste of what his previous album featured, Sheeran sings of having found ‘the one’ while all his friends have gone out to find what he’s already found: a place for hearts to collide. His vocal skills are demonstrated as he holds a single note for around 17 seconds in this track.
I’m a Mess
The track sounds like a mess which is probably what Sheeran was going for, somehing a little rough edged to match the lyrics when he sings, “Going through the motions, going through us”,sounding tired. The emotional exposure in this song makes it sound like Sheeran actually is a mess himself. Towards the end, I was reminded of Give Me Love.
Sing helps establish Ed as a versatile singer who can leap outside his comfort zone and be loud about it. It’s almost as if he’s encouraging his listeners to sing as he takes a Pharrell-produced detour from his usual sound.
When Taylor Swift herself heard this tune, she decided she would never want to piss of Ed Sheeran and right she is. The song bleeds of betrayal and unresolved anger with profane language used in the lyrics to drive home the point. It’s perhaps the only song with a curse word making an appearance, leaving the rest clean.
Following in the same direction as Don’t, comes another scornful track supposedly about Nina Nesbitt whose musical career was given a boost by Sheeran. Once again, he doesn’t hold back on the truth. His version of the truth is for everyone to hear and this is one of my favourites off the album.
After subtly ranting in Nina, the pace slows down for Photograph with Sheeran justifying his heart ache by starting out with, “Loving can hurt, loving can hurt sometimes but it’s the only thing that I know.” and goes on to sing that it’s the only thing that keeps us alive. I suppose that after singing quite a bit about the ugly side of love, Photograph is meant to reassure us that loving is the best thing you can do with your life.
This song is all about finding consolation and comfort from the bottom of a beer bottle, trying to forget what needs to be forgotten. If an inebriated mind climbing towards intoxication could sing, this would be what it sounds like in there. I particularly enjoyed this track and would definitely say this one is my favourite.
The chords sound like a sea faring song as Sheeran dives back into love rather than falling with Tenerife Sea. Reportedly he recorded this song after attending the Grammy Awards where he felt ‘a bit left out’ as he sat with his parents. Perhaps these lines from the song were written in this context:
“We are surrounded by all of these lies
And people who talk too much”
Tenerife Sea makes you feel like you’re on a simplistic and slow paced island amidst the poisonous sea of the hedonistic Hollywood lifestyle.
The beat picks up and we’re on an emotional vagabond journey as Ed sings of leaving his fathers home, making direct references to his unhealthy drinking habits and late night disappearances. Before allowing listeners to dub the father-son relationship as dysfunctional or based on hatred, Sheeran pulls us back in by singing,
“But I love him from the skin to my bones
But I don’t wanna live in his home”
Runaway is definitely one to listen to.
This track stands out as one of the two dominated by Ed’s rapping skills. The Man bleeds of honesty wherein Ed expresses worry that his career cost him a family and a settled lifestyle. It’s a good way to know about the other side of the fame and popularity we often attribute to singers since it’s coming directly from the source.
Thinking Out Loud
Thinking Out Loud is best described as a generic slow dancing song, all said and done already by countless artists before. So this track didn’t stand out as much as the others, in my opinion.
Based on his grandfather’s painful death after suffering from Alzheimer’s, Afire Love is another raw emotional trip that Sheeran takes us on, from the white walls of a hospital room to a black-clad funeral seeped in grief. I found this song very overwhelming (in a positive way) and so will anyone who’s lost anyone in their lives because it hits home the hardest.
Take it Back
Take it Back is the second song featuring Ed’s rapping although I always wonder if that’s the right term to use since it could more accurately be described as speak-singing and even Ed himself says “I’m not a rapper; I’m a singer with the flow I’ve got a habit for spitting quicker lyrics” in the beginning of this song. Not the best track off the album but as far as the lyrics go, I think people in the UK may get a kick out of it.
Another song that didn’t make a memorable mark, Shirtsleeves seems similar to Tenerife Sea in terms of its theme.
Even My Dad Does Sometimes
This song was originally called Hold On and for me, it contains the most meaningful lyrics.
“It’s alright to cry
Even my dad does sometimes
So don’t wipe your eyes
Tears remind you you’re alive
It’s alright to die ‘
Cause death’s the only thing you haven’t tried
But just for tonight hold on”
This one is real tearjerker for anyone who wants a good cry. I think this song deserved a spot on the album instead of being demoted to a bonus track.
I See Fire
First heard on The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug OST, I See Fire is the perfect song for the film as well as Game of Thrones with its references to fire and smoke amidst mountain battles. Unlike most OST tracks, Sheeran was chosen by the film’s director Peter Jackson to write a song that caters specifically to the movie. Ed then saw the film, wrote and recorded most of the track all in a single day.
Speaking about the recording process, he said, “I got the chance to produce and play all the instruments on it apart from the cello (… and I) managed to learn (the) violin for a day.”
I think this shows just how versatile and talented Sheeran is as a musician.
I’d say the album is great but when the bar was set so high by Sheeran’s debut album, Multiply falls just a little bit short. The variation and experimentation on this album are a welcome change but perhaps a little too much for a single album at once. Sheeran has quite effectively captivated the human emotional spectrum in the space of an hour so I think everyone will be able to relate to each song at different times not when they’re listening to the whole album in one go. Apart from this little bit of critique, I’d recommend buying or downloading a copy and giving it a listen!