Ed Sheeran releases ‘perfect’ new album

A solid blue image appeared on Ed Sheeran’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts at 1:29 a.m. EST on Dec. 13, 2016, that left thousands of fans feeling clueless, yet excited at the same time.

It had been exactly a year, down to the exact minute, since the British singer-songwriter posted that he was taking a break for a year. He said he wanted to see the world through his eyes instead of a screen and promised his fans his third album was “on its way.” Clues in the form of GIFs and graphics started appearing on Sheeran’s accounts teasing the new album.

Sheeran released two singles, “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill” in early January, giving fans something to put on replay until the full album came out. About a month later, on his birthday, he dropped another single, “How Would You Feel (Paean),” unannounced.

Succeeding his previous albums “+” and “×,” “÷” was finally released on March 3, 2017. The 16-track album does not disappoint. From rap to Irish folk to pop music, Sheeran knows how to tell a story in a song and fill it with emotion.

In “Nancy Mulligan,” one of the songs that probably gets skipped over because of its unfamiliar Irish-inspired tunes, he tells the love story of his paternal grandparents. With very specific details, Sheeran sings from his late grandfather’s perspective.

The lyrics, “She and I went on the run, don’t care about religion,” describe the struggle of getting their families’ approval for marriage. They never got the approval, but got married anyway. Those who have skipped over the song should go back and listen to its lyrics about the couple’s 60-year marriage. It’s worth listening to.

Another heavily emotional song is “Supermarket Flowers,” which Sheeran wrote when his maternal grandmother was ill. She passed before the album was released, but he decided to keep the track on the list.

Along with his tunes, Sheeran’s tone changes throughout the album, as well. In “Happier,” another one of the love songs, Sheeran sings about a girl who used to make him happy, but is now seeing someone new. The jealousy, in a totally sarcastic tone, continues in “New Man” — probably the closest thing to Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” which Sheeran co-wrote.

In “New Man,” Sheeran disses the girl’s new boyfriend several times. He uses lyrics like, “Tribal tattoos, and he don’t know what it means,” but also admits that he understands what she sees in her new boyfriend, saying, “But I heard he makes you happy, so that’s fine by me.”

Since the release of the album, Sheeran has been shattering records on Spotify and elsewhere. With 56,727,861 Spotify streams, he broke The Weeknd’s “Starboy” record (29 million) from November 2016 for a first-day streaming. He also broke The Weeknd’s one-day streaming record of 40.3 million with 68.7 million streams. With 45.5 million monthly listeners, Sheeran has Spotify’s  most-streamed artist spot secured, as well.

Sheeran hits the road on March 16 for his world tour. The North American tour dates were announced March 8, and he will visit Detroit on Wednesday, Sept. 27, to perform at the new Little Caesars Arena.

Some of the songs will make you want to cry, some will make you want to dance, but every track on the album is worth hitting the play button for at least once. The trick is to connect that aux cord to your Spotify account and blast it while driving. “Dive” is definitely one of the sing-along kind of songs.

Rating: 5/5 stars