A lot of the time, an artist's earliest albums will define what the foundations of their sound will be. Ed Sheeran is an odd exception, his music becoming more refined as time went on. Nonetheless, his formula has worked, as he's become one of the world's biggest artist, every song of his becoming a massive hit. His sound was still finding its way very early on, though it was still very distinct. Ed Sheeran's first album + was the precursor to his future, setting up some standards for his sound while still showing his character.
The most profound songs in Ed Sheeran's discography are the ones about heartbreak, and, unfortunately for him, he's been feeling it for a long time. Just as you'd expect, the sad songs on + are some of the most powerful on it, 'U.N.I.' being one of the first standouts. The song is a tragedy, Sheeran singing about losing his first girlfriend after the went their separate ways, she to university and he on a journey to get his music career going. Sheeran's fast-paced lyrics atop his acoustic guitar add more meaning to all the thoughts he expresses in the song, showing that it wasn't something he thought of lightly. 'This' is another heartfelt track, its stripped down sound allowing for Sheeran's lyrics to really take over.
That's not to say + is just about love. In fact, most of the album tries many different things, even as far as sound goes. There are the nostalgic classics like 'Lego House' and the badass clap back to his haters with 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You.' There are some songs that take on a groovy atmosphere, like 'Grade 8.' Sheeran celebrates being in love as well, opening track 'The A Team' being a sweet track about such. There's even an uncharacteristic distorted guitar in 'The City,' making it standout in all of Sheeran's discography. Closing track 'Give Me Love' is like an ode to love, about wanting it reciprocated from those who maybe aren't ready to give it. + certainly comes full circle, covering a lot of ground in between.
Ed Sheeran's first album + was the precursor to his future, clearly still trying to find his way into the industry but establishing character in a strong way. His lyrics tell heartbreaking and heartwarming tales, as they have been for all the years he's been active. His sound isn't quite as diverse as + is anymore, but you can definitely see his progression.
Favorite Tracks: U.N.I.; The A Team; This; You Need Me, I Don't Need You
Least Favorite Track: Wake Me Up
Rating: 80 / 100
Stream or buy + on Apple Music: