Loading article content
Ed Sheeran exists somewhere over my shoulder in a musical blind spot, a place where I find it hard to separate the subjective and objective parts of my critical brain.
To me, his ballads are molehills beside the mountains of other singer-songwriters, while his rap-influenced verses lack the credibility that comes from the roots of the hip-hop genre.
And yet on his second album, X, I can see where his sum-of-many-parts appeal might lie.
Slow songs such as One and Photograph are intimately recorded, a direct confession from his mouth to fans' ears.
They step beyond the usual heartbreak clichés of boy-band pop lyrics while clinging close to the same boy-band melody/harmony arrangements (although Photograph, co-written with Johnny McDaid, is identikit Snow Patrol). Sheeran does, however, spend half the time in a falsetto upper register, as if worried that each song's sentiment isn't enough in itself to hold the modern-day listener's attention for the three-to-four minute duration without some X Factor elaboration.
I'm not, however, convinced that the personal details in his lyrics are, ehm, gentlemanly.
It's one thing to get tongues wagging on social media (is the unnamed target of infidelity attack Don't really Ellie Goulding?); it's another to be so behind-closed-doors specific (calling a song Nina when your ex is Scottish singer Nina Nesbitt).