Ed Sheeran: x

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Artist: Ed Sheeran
Genre: Pop
Label: Asylum Records

When you're hot property everyone wants a piece of you, and the roll call of collaborators on Ed Sheeran's second album suggests he's the sort of guy who just can't say no. With producers Pharrell Williams, Rick Rubin and Benny Blanco in the mix, x (aka multiply) might have been self-indulgent or overblown or both. But Sheeran strikes a self-assured balance between his trademark lovelorn pop balladry (One, Nina, Photograph) and, discarding his guitar, a slick, Americanised twist on Sing and Runaway. The lyrical references to heartbreak, drinking and smoking weed are undeniably cliched, and a few songs, such as Tenerife Sea, are simply dull. Still, the enjoyable injection of blue-eyed soul on Thinking Out Loud makes Sheeran's aptitude for melody difficult to dismiss. Whether you're a fan or not, it looks like he's sticking around. edsheeran.com

Download: Runaway, Thinking Out Loud

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times