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British musician Ed Sheeran makes American debut

Genres are blended and redefined in British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran’s soft album, simply entitled “+”. Sheeran’s album debuted in the United Kingdom last year, but his popularity has only just started growing in the United States, especially with his recent showcase in a “VH1 Presents…” tour, visiting nineteen different cities in North America. Sheeran recently performed at the River Stage at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. For live concerts, Sheeran explains that he actually uses a loop pedal in order to create his unique sound. With a loop pedal, artists can record different parts of their song and play them back for the duration of the song, meaning that artists do not need to bring a band along to every show.

Because of his use of a loop pedal and variety of different techniques, it is hard to define a single genre for Sheeran’s songs; while some can be classified as pop, others fall into the acoustic category, and yet others are interwoven with the soft tones akin to ballads. His song “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” even intertwines a bit of rap into his fast-moving words.

With so many soft songs, one might expect that Sheeran’s words might be lost in the roar of an enthusiastic crowd during a live concert. However, when he asks for quiet to record a loop or tell a story on stage, such silence comes over the audience that even crickets can be heard. Sheeran takes the crowd through as many emotions as genres during concerts; one moment, the audience may be laughing at his crude humor, while the next, they are spellbound by the lilting sounds of his acoustic rendition of “Small Bump,” a song dedicated to one of his friends, who had a miscarriage.

The first track on Sheeran’s album, “The A Team,” was recently available for free download from iTunes, placing him currently at #12 in top UK albums and #64 in top US albums. This soulful song tells the story of a homeless girl who is suffering from an addiction, alluded to by the mention of “class A,” which is a drug reference.

A few of Sheeran’s song, like “U.N.I” and “Wake Me Up,” evoke a sense of “poetic injustice.” Both songs tap into his sense of human emotion and longing for someone he cannot be with, a passion he cannot share. Full of rich descriptions and refreshing lyrics, some of the songs present subtle analogies that allow the listener to be taken to a new level of understanding of emotions.

As an added treat, Sheeran placed a bonus track at the end of the final song on the album, “Give Me Love,” called “The Parting Glass,” a nod to his Irish heritage. This somber song relates the melancholy of losing someone close and the guilt that can often be associated with such feelings.

Overall, the album is well worth a listen, as it is both relatable and relaxing. And if you missed the Philadelphia concert just a few weeks ago, don’t worry – Ed Sheeran has announced that he will be returning to the United States in 2013 for another tour! Check out his website, edsheeran.com, for more information about upcoming tour dates and locations. Bonus! – if you sign up for emails, you’ll receive a free download of Sheeran’s “One Take EP,” showcasing two of his songs.

Sources: edsheeran.com, billboard.com, bbc.co.uk

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