After finishing in style, with – (Subtract), his series of albums topped with mathematical signs, Ed Sheeran offers an album which seems to be made from the scraps of the previous one. Autumn Variations allows for some nice surprises, but also causes disappointments.
The syrupy formulations are often matched only by the bland melodies on this new offering from Ed Sheeran. Fortunately, the majority of the album does not fall into this category. The first pieces are particularly disconcerting, after an album earlier this year where we found a singer-songwriter ready to strip down his compositions to keep only the essentials.
Musician and Ed Sheeran collaborator Aaron Dessner (The National) mentioned on Instagram that his favorite songs are Page and Punchline. We are of the same opinion. These two acoustic ballads, where the voices overlap, are the ones that touched us the most and whose essence is closest to what Ed Sheeran produces when he doesn’t care about being played on the radio.
Let’s be clear here: several of the songs that Sheeran wrote and then played non-stop on the radio are pop music gems. But nothing beats a slightly less commercial melody signed by the Brit. He knows how to write catchy choruses like no other, speaking in unique prose about the pains of the heart and soul.
Aaron Dessner, who acted as co-writer and producer on the entire record [as was the case for -(Subtract)], is a very talented multidisciplinary artist, who often accomplishes very great things in his various musical projects. However, we lose the imprint of his distinct touch on this disc. Ed Sheeran himself has a style that can be discerned among many others, which is clearly recognizable from the beginning to the end of Autumn Variations.
Another favorite, When Will I Be Alright, brings back the folk fiddles that Sheeran loves, which blend nicely with the acoustic guitar. Head > Heels, where a choir embellishes a superbly written chorus, is another great success of this disc which is perfectly suited to the autumn season (as its name suggests), but which will probably not accompany us until the winter.