The man is from Framlingham, made a bit of a name for himself and doesn’t need me to review his album to sell any more. Back in the day when he was playing open mics at The Steamboat in Ipswich, having a pint in the Station Hotel in Fram or being selected to play at Ipswich Music Day, Ed Sheeran was looked upon as someone who had something, he was someone to watch. Now that he has proven that he has something, that he can fill the major stadia around the world what you are more likely to hear is “”Oh not bloody Sheeran again“.
÷ landed on my desk a while ago now and I liked it, especially ‘Galway Girl‘ and ‘Shape of You‘ – but that was before it became obligatory for every radio station in the world to play those songs every 15 minutes, or so it seems. Now I scream at the radio when they come on – “there are 15 tracks on that album play something else!” The whole album has been so relentlessly pushed down our throats by the marketeers that it is difficult to get away from it.
Now if you are an Ed Sheeran fan you will already have the deluxe, signed, platinum encased, limited edition with seven secret tracks version of Divide and nothing I say will move you. (I have no idea if such a variation exists but would not be surprised if one does!) . On the other hand if you haven’t bought a copy yet chances are you never will, you are one of those saying “Oh not bloody Sheeran again!”
Unfortunately Sheeran’s talent is today largely hidden by the marketing, constant airplays and hype. And he knows it. Listen to the words of ‘Eraser’, the opening track: “Friends and Family filled with envy when they should be filled with pride…. I chased the pictured perfect life, I think they painted it wrong…”.
‘Castle on the Hill‘ naturally hits a chord in Suffolk – there are not too many pop songs written about the county. The song reflects life growing up in a small rural town knowing that it would only be the starting point. There is something very satisfying about playing ‘Castle‘ loud in the car as we deliver Grapevine to The Station – at speeds considerably less than 90 and with our lights on when appropriate!
And then we come to ‘Galway Girl’. I spent a lot of time in Galway in my youth. I know what its like to walk into a pub and find extraordinary musicians just doing what they enjoy. I can easily relate to the fantasy of falling for the ‘girl who played a fiddle in an Irish band‘. An this is Sheeran’s genius – yes he met Niamh Dunne playing fiddle with Beoga and that inspired the song – but the tale he weaves is just that, a tale. If we are very lucky we might catch up with Beoga at FolkEast and chat with Niamh and fellow Beoga band member Seán Óg Graham, now Niamh’s husband !
What Divide made me do is realise that Ed Sheeran is an excellent song-smith who’s lyrics are painfully honest. He writes from the heart and that cannot be easy living as he does in the limelight of a notoriously fickle industry. I have also seen this man perform songs from the album unplugged – just a man and a guitar, no expensive studio production – and you know what? They still have the impact he intended when he wrote them, that alone speaks volumes.
[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]Beoga, the group from Antrim, Northern Ireland who co-wrote and play on Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl‘ and will play at FolkEast 2017 on Friday 18th on The Sunset Stage. If you’ve not got a copy of Divide yet it is available just about everywher – here is one link, click.[/box]