When British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran released his debut album, +, in 2011, he was relatively unknown. But with the strength of six singles and co-writing hits for other artists like One Direction and Taylor Swift, he has carved out a place as a top-notch international musician.
His follow-up album, x, picks up where + left off, while also showing how Sheeran has matured over the three years between releases. The record is a diverse collection of beautifully crafted songs that reveals the extent of his talent and range.
There is the classic, romantic Ed in Photograph. Same goes for One, where he's crooning over a lost love. The song is carried by his soulful vocals over minimal guitar-playing, which really drives home his loneliness and regret.
There is the new, more daring Ed in Sing and Runaway, which incorporates his guitar into more uptempo tracks. Even with co-producer Pharrell Williams' fingerprints all over Sing, it still feels like an Ed Sheeran song.
There's also an appearance by Ed the rapper in The Man. Fortunately, he doesn't embarrass himself here, as his rap verses feel natural rather than forced for the sake of being cool.
It took three years to produce, but x was certainly worth the wait.