Ed Sheeran, ‘X’

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Clear Channel

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Clear Channel

CD Review

Ed Sheeran plays the Xfinity Center Sept. 9.

 

Taylor Swift bestie and duet partner, writer of songs for One Direction, management client of Sir Elton John, British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran comes into his own on his sophomore album “x” — pronounced “multiply.”

If his slow-burning hit 2011 debut “+” — pronounced “plus” — helped break Sheeran thanks to “The A Team,” a hushed lament about a drug-addled prostitute, “x” will be remembered for the redhead letting loose his inner soulman and MC. It works thanks to his own keening croon and assistance from a wide spectrum of producers known for their work with rock and hip-hop artists, including Rick Rubin and Pharrell.

While many of the spare acoustic tracks creep up on you with their tunefulness a la “The A Team” — including burbling opener “One” and the haunting “Photograph” — others take charge right out of the gate.

“Sing” has a danceable snap similar to producer Pharrell’s own “Happy.” “Bloodstream” is one of several tracks to include an irresistible hum and simultaneous sense of ease and intensity. But “Don’t,” a scathing, cuss-laden takedown of a paramour who betrayed Sheeran while they were staying in the same hotel is his masterstroke, combining a singer-songwriter’s eye with a contemporary groove for lacerating-but-danceable results. (Out now)

 

 

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