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Ed Sheeran launches Autumn Variations album

Ed+Sheeran+launches+Autumn+Variations+album
Marta King

Review: At SoFi stadium, 80,000 people cheer intensely, screaming at the tops of their lungs for their favorite English artist to come back on stage and perform one last song. They are still cheering when the singer of “Shape of You” and “Thinking Out Loud” reemerges wearing a blue football jersey with Autumn Variations 29 printed on the back, revealing the title and the September release date of his newest album.

Ed Sheeran surprises his fans with his newest album Autumn Variations, officially released on Sept. 29, 2023, only four months after his Subtract album. There are fourteen songs in the album, each telling the story of a different friend that has influenced Sheeran’s life.

Sheeran explains that Autumn Variations is a gift to his fans, saying, “there’s no singles, no videos, it’s on my own label, so no pressure for anything.” 

In many of the songs on Sheeran’s seventh album, Sheeran mostly relies on his voice with minimal background music, and this technique highlights the simplicity of the lyrics. At first listen, the word choice and rhyme schemes were not very impressive, so it took me a couple of run–throughs to appreciate and love the songs.

Autumn Variation’s range of songs offers a myriad of feelings and perspectives about life. His songs “When Will I be Alright” and “Page” are reflective and somber in tone. On the other hand, songs like “Midnight” and “American Town” have cheerful storylines and upbeat melodies. 

One thing I personally love about Ed Sheeran’s songs is that they tend to express a sense of vulnerability. For example, in “Punchline,” he sings “all I am is only flesh and bone,” which I interpret as to be human is to experience pain and hurt.

Though the songs are centered around specific people in Sheeran’s life, they each have a sense of relatability for all audiences, especially “That’s On Me.” The song opens with Sheeran expressing uncertainty that life will work out through various rap sequences. I appreciate his bluntness because it poses a question that many teens ask: “what happens if life does not work out?” It reflects the fear that students share in the realization that they are responsible for their own future and success.

Following the release of Sheeran’s chart–topping hit “Perfect” (2017) from his album Divide, Sheeran proved yet again his ability to write a beautiful love song. He does not fail to deliver in Autumn Variations, with songs such as “Head > Heels” and “Magical.” Of the two, “Magical” is more upbeat, showcasing a feeling of awe around love with his lyrics “Is this how it feels to be in love/ This is magical.” “Head > Heels” is also a romantic song, although I feel that the background beat overpowers the gentleness of his voice.

Perhaps the two most popular songs of Autumn Variations are “Plastic Bag” and “American Town,” both of which Sheeran performed for the first time publicly on the final day of his Mathematics Tour on Sept. 23, 2023. At the concert, Sheeran told the audience that “Plastic Bag” is “about being at your lowest.” It speaks a truth that high schoolers can relate to, especially with lyrics such as “I’m burning days ’til the week ends.”

“American Town” is a fall–themed love story. Lyrics like “lost in love and don’t wanna be found/ It’s just you and me,” capture the feeling of falling in love on a cold fall day in a small American town.  

After the release of the album, Sheeran decided he wanted to record a live version of Autumn Variations, but he wanted it to be done in a unique way. He ended up surprising fans at their doorstep and filming each song in a different fan’s living room.

“We did 14 houses over two days and it was such a fun way to meet fans,” said Sheeran. “It’s the bonus album that you all deserve, and thank you to all the fans who let us in with zero notice.”

Overall, Autumn Variations is a powerful album that reflects uncertainty, perseverance through recognizing that life is really difficult at times, but his songs provide hope that everything will be okay. Check it out on any preferred music platform!

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About the Contributor
Marta King, Staff Writer
Hi! I’m Marta King and I am a staff writer for The Arrow! I originally joined journalism to express my creativity and I enjoy every minute of it! I love journalism because every single person adds something new to the paper, and it is such a great feeling when, after weeks of hard work, all the elements of a page come together to create The Arrow. Outside of school, I enjoy playing soccer, listening to music, playing with my cat, or snuggling with my dogs!
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