You can’t write and record songs like “Thinking Out Loud,” “Shape Of You” and “Perfect” and not expect the world to fall in love with you.
Not when you’re Ed Sheeran. He is perhaps one of the biggest male singer/songwriters to emerge this generation.
Sheeran makes music that can speak to your heart and get into your head. Think of “The A Team,” “Lego House,” “Castle On The Hill,” “Super Market Flowers, “Photograph,” “Sing” and “Afire Love.” He’s an artist that can rival the songwriting talent of someone like a Paul Simon. If you know music, you know how big of a statement that was to make.
With all that said, is he still an everyday, regular guy? You bet. Even with his success, Sheeran is quite introverted. His latest album, “No. 6 Colaborations Project,” demonstrates that, even though the album is an all-star event.
“No. 6” is No. 1 on Billboard. It’s his third consecutive album to top the chart, following “Multiply” and “Divide.”
So why call it “No. 6”? Well, it comes after “No. 5,” so to speak. Before Sheeran blew up the music business in 2011, he put out an EP in the UK titled “No. 5 Collaborations Project.” The EP featured a series of duets with well established artists from the UK. Fast forward eight years, and you have “No. 6,” which includes some of the best of today’s rap, R&B and hip-hop stars. Artists I wouldn’t have expected like Stormzy, Yebba, Camila Cabello, Skrillex, Eminem, Bruno Mars and Chris Stapleton join Sheeran for an album that showcases his need to keep it real, down-to-earth and, sometimes, alone.
The first single, “I Don’t Care,” features Justin Bieber. I’ve never understood the “Bieber Fever” thing, but I do like him on this song. “I Don’t Care” could have been on Sheeran’s mega-album, “Divide.” The consistent drum machine vibe is infectious, yet the lyrics point to Sheeran’s need to get away from the masses to go be home with his wife, Cherry, and their baby. I love this song.
“Blow” rocks. Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Chris Stapleton all on the same track? Can we say Grammy-winning collaboration? The accompanying video is as awesome as the song. It features an array of female models jamming the hot track. It’s perfect. His attempt to incorporate grime works here, but struggles on some other tracks.
Cabello and Cardi B strike up some fun on “South Of The Border,” which carries on where Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” leaves off.
Other notable collabs include “Beautiful People” (Khalid), “Remember The Name” (Eminem, 50 Cent), “I Don’t Want Your Money” (H.E.R.), “Best Part Of Me” (Yebba) and “Put It All On Me” (Ella Mai).
David T. Farr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.