He’s one of music’s most unlikely stars. An unassuming redhead from tiny Hebden Bridge in northern England, Ed Sheeran has a knack for crafting infectious pop songs in a variety of styles. The 26-year-old’s ambitious third album follows the mathematical titles of his previous bestselling releases, Plus and Multiply, but outdoes them both with better songs and more diverse sounds. Along with the chart-topping singles “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill,” the album has catchy ballads like “Perfect” and feelgood anthems of hope including “What Do I Know.” Strong rhythms drive sunny songs such as the Latin-tinged “Barcelona” and the West African-flavored “Bibia Be Ye Ye.” And Sheeran’s affinity for rapping is evident on “Eraser” and the “Galway Girl,” a fiddle-fueled number for anyone with Irish heritage or a sense of fun. The best vocal delivery comes on “Dive,” a track with surprising soulfulness. Pop’s jack of all trades, Sheeran can seemingly do it all.
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