The debut album by the young Brit, caused a stir in commercial reception, and garnered a lot of attention and some accolades for the singer-songwriter. Trying to input indie folk, hip hop, and acoustic rock into the same collection is an ambitious undertaking, and unfortunately, causes a lack of cohesiveness within the record, which lessens the desire for repeat listens from the off. However, in saying that, there aren’t any real ‘bad’ tracks on this album, there just aren’t many that deserve much additional attention.
Lead single and commercially successful opener, “The A Team”, is a stronger song off the album, telling a narrative about three gloomy, serious ideas (of prostitution, drugs and homelessness) over a rather upbeat acoustic backing. Truth is though, the same track titled, “Little Lady (feat. Mikill Pane)”, off his earlier EP is a far more compelling listen. “Grade 8” and “The City”, the latter backed by beat-boxing, are two of his better efforts, and decent pop songs by general standards.
“You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” is Sheeran’s only true hip hop track off the album, and it is one of the better moments. His verses and beat are credible, and open this generally acoustic balladeer to broader audiences. “Small Bump” showcases adept acoustic ability with a good main riff, and the hidden closer, “The Parting Glass”, shows his vocal ability, so there is no doubting that he could make some very good songs.
Damien Rice is apparently the central figure for influencing his musical styling, but in truth, his songs are almost nothing like Rice’s. I think it says enough about the artist when I say that his covers are better than his originals (his acoustic rendition of “Empire State of Mind” is noteworthy), but there is enough in ‘+’ to suggest there is some potential here, but at the moment, potential is all it is.
‘Better than Average’ Songs – “The A Team”, “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”