Ed Sheeran might be young, but that hasn’t stopped him from already becoming a world-class musician. With his new album, he’s hoping his achievements will multiply.
Since releasing his major-label debut, +, in 2011, 23-year-old British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran has hit musical milestones that those long in the business might never see. In the past two years, he opened a stadium tour for Taylor Swift, was nominated for Best New Artist and Song of the Year (for “The A Team”) at the Grammy Awards, performed at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games and had chart-topping singles like “Lego House” and “Everything Has Changed,” a duet with Swift.
Sheeran just released x (Atlantic Records, $12), the follow-up to the multiplatinum + and something his fans, or “Sheerios,” have been waiting for. “I hope it connects with people and is relatable,” he says of the new record, pronounced “multiply.” “I’m hoping the music takes people through all different types of emotions.”
The difference between x and his previous work, Sheeran reveals, lies in what he personally put into it. “I’ve opened up more on this one,” he says.
As with a lot of sophomore efforts that follow hugely popular debuts, Sheeran admits there was a certain amount of stress associated with making x. “I did feel some pressure, but once the songs were written, it was more about the approach of production,” he says. “Thankfully I had some world-class hands on deck producer-wise.”
The “world-class hands” Sheeran is referring to include uber-producers Pharrell Williams (Beyoncé, Robin Thicke) and Rick Rubin (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash). Williams and Rubin helped create standout tracks “Sing” and “Don’t,” respectively. Jake Gosling, who worked with Sheeran on +, also helped take Sheeran’s blend of folk, acoustic pop and hip-hop to the next level. And after whittling the songs down from the more than 70 he demoed to 12, Sheeran says it’s the best and most eclectic work he’s done.
“If I can emulate a similar success with x that I had with +, I’ll be happy,” he says. “I really just want to continue on this trajectory and keep traveling the world with this new record.”
Mission accomplished, Ed. His very first arena-headlining tour of North America kicks off in Seattle on Aug. 22.