A lot can happen in four years — and for Ed Sheeran, a popular British singer and songwriter, that is especially true. Since his last catchy album “÷” in 2017 and “No. 6 Collaborations Project” in 2019, he has become a husband and father. His newest album “=” (pronounced “equals”), released on Oct. 29, consists of 14 songs, focusing a lot on this new chapter of his life; it grants a peek into how he has matured, how he’s taking care of his daughter and how he is spending time with his wife while still dancing through the night.
“I have grown up, I am a father now / Everything has changed, but I am still the same somehow,” he boldly sings in the very first song “Tide” of his album, referring to his marriage with Cherry Seaborn and the birth of his daughter Lyra Antarctica Seaborn Sheeran. It’s one of the more up-beat songs in the album, along with the previously released singles “Bad Habits” and “Shivers.”
Both of these songs already got stuck in listeners’ heads before the album itself was released. “My bad habits lead to late nights endin’ alone / Conversations with a stranger I barely know / Swearing this will be the last, but it probably won’t” are not only lines to know by heart now, but also very relatable, especially for college students.
After all, “Bad Habits” refers to behaviors such as partying and drinking — just like “Shivers” where he sings: “And when they say the party’s over, then we’ll bring it right back.” Both songs start out in a calm but anticipating way — you know the song is going to increase its pace and that you’ll want to sing and dance along. Especially in “Shivers,” your head starts nodding along to the electronic sound — when the chorus starts, you’ll find yourself dancing to it.
Similarly captivating are “2Step” and “Stop the Rain”; however, those songs don’t address partying as directly. In “2Step,” Sheeran sings — almost raps — and therefore makes one reference to his album “÷” about going “all night / Two-steppin’ with the woman [he loves],” the song is more about life’s pace and how to deal with the stress that comes along with it. “Stop the Rain” adds on to that, focusing on the idea that no matter what’s going on in your life, you’ll get through it eventually.
The other songs in “=” are more slow-paced and emotion-loaded, giving you shivers just by listening to them. And, of course, love is a reoccurring theme in all of Sheeran’s songs — be it the love he has for his wife he wants to “love tonight / one on one by the candlelight” in “Love in Slow Motion”, the love for his daughter for whom he wrote the lullaby “Sandman” or the love for his mentor and renowned Australian music promoter Michael Gudinski who passed away. In “Visiting Hours,” Sheeran wishes “that Heaven had visiting hours / So [he] could just swing by and ask [Gudinski´s] advice” — a childish, impossible but honest wish many others probably share with him.
In “First Times”, Sheeran sings about all the first times he had with his wife and how “the greatest thing that [he has] achieved was four little words, down on one knee.” More declarations of love, dear moments and realizations of time passing follow in “Collide”, “Be Right Now,” “Leave Your Life” and “The Joker and the Queen.” Then again, in “Overpass Graffiti,” Sheeran sings about a break-up from a while ago that’ll never fade like graffiti on the overpass,” breaking the otherwise very present-oriented themes of the other songs.
Altogether, Sheeran once again succeeds at conveying various feelings: love, joy, sadness and happiness, all incorporated in the lyrics as well as the pianos, guitars, bowed string instruments and electronic loops he used for his album. Personally, “Shivers” and “Sandman” count as my favorites of “=”; since I love every song, I’d give the album five out of five crabs. I’ve been listening to it non-stop for the past week and I’ll probably keep listening to it for another week or two. So, throw your headphones on and, as Sheeran sings in “Sandman,” “Come along for the ride!”