The Review Corner saw Sheeran on an early tour, in a venue so small he didn’t need screens for the fans and we were able to get near the front. While we found the music a bit bland, as a performer he was impressive — confident, talented, good with his fans and very clever; not only is he ruthlessly ambitious, he’s financially astute. You see a man playing Wembley with just a guitar, he sees a man getting 100% of the take undiluted by band members.
We expected this album to be a bit bland and were surprised that it’s not. What it is, is the work of a man who is still ruthlessly ambitious and knows his fans. It’s a nice album as a body of music but we can see him writing each song with a specific demographic in mind. The most famous example of this is Galway Girl, which the Guardian said was “a song so ludicrous his label tried to prevent it from appearing on the record”. It’s not ludicrous at all, it’s a catchy pop tune with an Irish feel. Sheeran explained to the Guardian that there are 400 million people in the world (presumably a made-up number, his way of saying “a lot”) who say they’re Irish, even if they’re not. But it means there’s 400m people who might reach his album via that track, unlikely as it is they’ve not heard of him already.
Indeed, every genre you like bar death metal is on here, diluted down to radio-friendly pop. Sheeran gets away with it because we all think he’s a nice guy and, like James Blunt, is deprecatingly self-aware. If you’re not Irish you can still enjoy Galway Girl because it’s ironic, dude.
Overall: bland but likeable, and clever at hitting the spot in the same way as a schmaltzy Hollywood blockbuster; an album to play in the kitchen or in the car, to sing along to.
Buy here (he needs the cash, so please help out)