"Equals" by Ed Sheeran (Atlantic Records).
Since his last solo album, Ed Sheeran has experienced many changes, including marriage, loss and fatherhood. All of them are on the new album "Equals", which sweetly sounds like a man with all he needs.
Sheeran sings, "I have grown up/I'm a father now/Everything is changing/But I'm still the same somehow," in the opening song to "Tides." It's hard to believe that he has changed.
The bitterness and heartbreak that had given songs on past albums a humorous edge are gone. Much of Sheeran's vulnerability that made him so relatable has disappeared. The guy you saw at the pub with his friends, enjoying a pint and some crisps, is now home, closing out the rest of the world.
Cherry Seaborn is the main focus of his "Equals," which are mostly love songs. He sings "First Times," a rousing rendition of Cherry Seaborn's most romantic song.
Sheeran's "The Joker and the Queen", "Overpass Graffiti", and "Love in Slow Motion" are all too sappy. These songs will be on the adult contemporary charts. This is a continuation of his hit "Perfect." You will find thick clouds of cellos and violins all throughout.
Their daughter Lyra, who was born August 2020, inspired the lullaby, "Sandman," in which dad sings "Loving You is Easy, But Life Will Not Always Be." It also mourns the passing of a friend, as well as the lovely farewell "Supermarket Flowers", from his last album, "Divide."
The majority of the 14 tracks on the album were co-written by Johnny McDaid, a regular collaborator from Snow Patrol. McDaid also co-produced the album with FRED, a UK pop producer. Matthew Sheeran, Matthew's brother, orchestrated strings for two of the tunes. These days, there aren't many unusual collaborations or features with big-name artists.
The singles "Shivers", a bubbly song with hand-claps, and "Bad Habit," hint at Sheeran being more danceable. There are also "2step," which showcases his vocal prowess, and "Stop The Rain", which flirts with an environmental message.
But "Equals," doesn't leave home or the woman he loves. He tells her that the world hurts less when he's by your side on "Collide." "Be Right Now" he sings, "There's nothing except the space we're occupying, the hurry and noise shut out."
Let's just tiptoe and let him enjoy his domestic bliss.