The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC - LAUREN MUR­PHY

x Asy­lum Records

When you’re hot property ev­ery­one wants a piece of you, and the roll call of col­lab­o­ra­tors on Ed Sheeran’s sec­ond al­bum sug­gests he’s the sort of guy who just can’t say no. With pro­duc­ers Phar­rell Wil­liams, Rick Ru­bin and Benny Blanco in the mix, x (aka mul­ti­ply) might have been self-in­dul­gent or overblown or both. But Sheeran strikes a self­as­sured bal­ance be­tween his trade­mark lovelorn pop bal­ladry (One, Nina, Pho­to­graph) and, dis­card­ing his gui­tar, a slick, Amer­i­can­ised twist on Sing and Ru­n­away. The lyri­cal ref­er­ences to heart­break, drink­ing and smok­ing weed are un­de­ni­ably clichéd, and a few songs, such as Tener­ife Sea, are sim­ply dull. Still, the en­joy­able in­jec­tion of blue-eyed soul on Think­ing Out Loud makes Sheeran’s ap­ti­tude for melody dif­fi­cult to dis­miss. Whether you’re a fan or not, it looks like he’s stick­ing around. ed­sheeran.com

Down­load: Ru­n­away, Think­ing Out Loud

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