- 22 Jul 19
Star-studded album short of Ed classics.
It is officially said to have started out on a laptop while Ed Sheeran was on tour last year. However, according to urban legend, this new release from the ginger-headed wunderkind has been part of his plans for complete world domination since even before the release of his 2011 debut +.
A sequel, of sorts, to his now famous quintet of early, pre-fame EPs, it sees the normcore poster boy – I know, these attempts at categorisation can really do your head in – enlist the talents of a veritable Who’s Who of present-day pop, and with their aid, flirt with grime, 90s hip hop, hair metal and more.
There’s 15 tracks in all and make no mistake it is an interesting, and sometimes highly entertaining, experiment. But it does feel essentially experimental, as if Ed is stretching different muscles before he decides on his next self-focussed artistic move. There’s no doubting this record will be lapped up the more fervent Ed acolytes. But the absence – to these ears at any rate – of either big-sounding bangers or the chart breaking ballads which have been his calling card for nearly the whole decade suggests that he may be saving the best stuff for a “proper” Ed Sheeran release.
On the plus side, the 80s-era Aerosmith-informed rocker ‘BLOW’, which boasts appearances from Bruno Mars and Chris Stapleton, is a welcome curveball. ‘Take Me Back To London’ is a great team-up with Ireland’s man-of-the-moment after his Longitude triumph, Stormzy, which is fun and catchy as hell – and proves that Ed can rap on equal terms with the London grime boss. It could be a hit. So too could the pop-powered ‘Beautiful People (featuring Khalid)’. And the soul and hip hop flavoured ‘I Don’t Want Your Money (feat. H.E.R.)’ is undeniably charming.
Less successful is the Latin pop-tinged ‘South Of The Border’: one suspects that the talents of Camila Cabello and Cardi B could have been better deployed. I am not a fan either of ‘Way To Break My Heart (feat. Skrillex)’. Meanwhile ‘Remember The Name (feat. Eminem and 50 Cent)’ clearly has the most star power, but none of the three big hitters really shines.
Not to worry, you might say: radio will play the singles; tracks will get on all the influential play-lists; and fans will buy it. But it’ll surprise me if No. 6 Collaborations Project sells anything like as well as Ed Sheeran’s blockbuster albums to date. Mind you, I’ve been wrong before...