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Lego House Or Penthouse? What Global Domination Means For Ed Sheeran

Tuesday, 06 August 2019 Written by Helen Payne

Ed Sheeran makes his own rules. After a decade of working his way up from busking in small towns and playing local pub gigs to now dizzying, chart-topping heights, life for Teddy has reached the point where he’s in the enviable position of creatively being able to do whatever he wants.

He’s done just that on ‘No. 6 Collaborations Project’. The new release finds a handful of tracks drastically veering away from his usual wheelhouse. The same sensitive soul who penned The A Team and Lego House in 2011, this year called up Stormzy for a beat-driven grime track, and even got Chris Stapleton on board for an eyebrow-raisingly heavy rock number. The reason? Ed needed a change.

Ahead of his string of August hometown shows in Leeds and Ipswich, we dive into cuts from Sheeran’s seminal debut album ‘+’ and his more recent output with the ‘No. 6 Collaborations Project’ to see exactly how much he’s changed.

‘+’ put the singer-songwriter on the map as a thoughtful type with a focus on pivotal life moments. His first commercial single, the aforementioned The A Team, dealt with some heavy themes in a comforting, delicate way. Sheeran shared the stories he’d heard when visiting a homeless shelter, those of homelessness, addiction and prostitution. He further conveyed these harrowing tales with a hard-hitting video starring actress Selina MacDonald.

Similar to The A Team, Lego House was another standout track on ‘+’, an endearing song about relationships and their fragility. “I'm gonna pick up the pieces and build a Lego house," he sings. "When things go wrong we can knock it down." He’s just a countryside boy looking for someone to spend rainy afternoons playing lego with.

Fast forward to the present day and our lovable lad has become one of the biggest pop stars in the world. But being internationally renowned has far-reaching effects, ones that made their way onto Sheeran’s lyric sheet.

While filling stadium after stadium around the world with everyone from teenagers to Radio 2 mums may have made him millions and given him the ability to fulfill his heart’s desires, what happens when these seemingly endless performances and perpetual parties become your entire life? What else can you write about?

We don’t blame him, it’s just something that comes with the job. But humble personal experiences — and the writing material that comes with them, à la ‘+’ — run the risk of becoming completely overwhelmed by all of this and rendering Sheeran solely to party banger territory.

1000 Nights from ‘No. 6 Collaborations Project’, a team effort with Meek Mill and Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, touches on this the most. We’re invited into Sheeran’s world and privy to his disillusionment at the gruelling downside to touring. “New York to London, a different city every day,” he sings. Later musing, “don't think it's gonna be stopping any time soon.”

Although it’s difficult to stay grounded when you’re living the high life and constantly battling with the chemical imbalances of a post-gig anti-climax, Teddy is all too aware of the perils that come with life on the road. He repeats the fact that he doesn’t fit in at glamorous parties — I Don’t Care featuring Justin Bieber — or even like the fake people that mix in these ridiculous circles  — Beautiful People featuring Khalid.

On Take Me Back To London, the deep grime cut with Stormzy, the Ipswich singer offers the London rapper some sage advice: “You can win BRITS, and you can do Glasto’, but when you're miles away and you're feeling alone, gotta remember that there ain't no place like home.”

It’s moments like this that we see the old Sheeran shining through. It’s also prevalent on Best Part Of Me featuring YABBA, which puts a delicate vocal melody ahead of elegant guitar lines and piano chords, while touching on common relationship insecurities: “She loves me, she loves me, why the hell does she love me?”

Yes, ‘No. 6’ gave us some bangers, but it also offered more intimate moments, harking back to the tone that endeared us to the singer-songwriter in the first place.

That coupled with Teddy’s ability to balance the club-ready pop tracks with the acoustic guitar ballads is why fans keep showing up. Meaningful experiences and personal relationships also remain strong threads on all of his records, and it’s because of this humbling nature, and a countryside niceness that hangs off him like your favourite old baggy sweatshirt, that he’s avoided the eye-rolling scenario of him sounding like he’s complaining that his gold shoes are too tight.

While you might think, “Ed Sheeran has changed, man, what a sell-out to the hype machine,” he really hasn’t. Despite releasing a star-studded record that plays with multiple genres, he’s still just Ed, performing alone in some of the biggest venues in the world, with just an acoustic guitar and loop pedal for company.

Ed Sheeran plays Leeds' Roundhay Park and Ipswich's Chantry Park this month. Tickets are on sale now.

Ed Sheeran Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Fri August 16 2019 - LEEDS Roundhay Park
Sat August 17 2019 - LEEDS Roundhay Park
Fri August 23 2019 - IPSWICH Chantry Park, IP2 0BS
Sat August 24 2019 - IPSWICH Chantry Park
Sun August 25 2019 - IPSWICH Chantry Park, IP2 0BS
Mon August 26 2019 - IPSWICH Chantry Park

Click here to compare & buy Ed Sheeran Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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