"Bloodstream" by Ed Sheeran from X (2014)
When I think about it, I realize that sooner or later I would start listening to Ed Sheeran. On one hand, the song he co-wrote with Taylor Swift, “Everything Has Changed" is one of my favorites on Red especially because of his very comforting voice. But besides, he also wrote “I See Fire" for the movie of The Hobbit. Although I still haven’t watched the movie, I did read the book this year. I can’t call myself a Middle Earth expert, but I thought the lyrics represented really well the values the story wants to transmit. And I don’t know many songs about dwarves and dragons that could get to be so popular.
Ed Sheeran’s latest album, X, received mixed reviews as well as some indifference too, but I’ve been listening to it quite a lot in the last couple of days — I even bought the CD! If you listened to his debut album, +, it’s easy to realize that there was a change, especially for the incorporation of rap verses and the production of Pharrell Williams. But even his acoustic ballads are more polished and warmer. When I compare both albums, though I haven’t listened a lot to +. I’d say I find progression rather than simple change.
But it was when I discovered that Ed Sheeran’s plays live alone only using his loop station, when I became really interested in him. When you think of looping, only hipster or experimental artists come to mind. While most of them uses looping as a fancy detail in their live concerts, Ed Sheeran worked with the loop station to write the songs on X. Sure, it can’t be compared to the textures and layers in Juana Molina’s songs, but he did a great job.
Take “Bloodstream” as an example. The introduction is the building up of one layer over the other – you can notice that clearly in the “hmm”s. When the verse starts you forget about the intro, but it’s used again as a background for the chorus. But until now, he was just playing around. It’s on the bridge, when the looping gets quite impressive. He starts singing alone with one acoustic guitar. As it is repeated, the vocals multiply and the percussion and the keyboards come in, only to build up a suitable background for the last chorus – notice that, therefore, he built up two different backgrounds for the chorus. And just when the song is pure pleasure, it all stops. It’s only then when we realize, that after all, it was just his guitar and his voice.