Ed Sheeran is baring his soul on his new album X. From what we’ve heard so far, he’s been crying and mourning everything from unfaithful lovers to the simple ups and downs of life—but “Take it Back” is different. Not only has Ed ditched his normal, gorgeous singing voice to rap a little on the verses, but he’s giving us details on how life used to be.
There’s a sense of Sheeran’s deep strength in the story he relates, admitting that he left home at 16 and had nowhere to live for four months. Ed takes us back to when he was struggling to get by and survive, then, contrasts those moments with where he’s at now. In particular, he says “I went from sleeping at a subway station to sleeping with a movie star”—which is a pretty big jump to say the least! This line will definitely be the one that people zero in on.
Like everyone who has come up from nothing, he’s got a few people to call out, but does so without ever veering into bitterness. By the time a pop star achieves a status as an international celebrity, it’s hard for us to believe there was a time when they struggled with things like money and insecurity. But he pokes fun at his body image, laughs off stylists, and talks about how he’d still rather be drinking with his friends in a dive bar than anywhere else.
In the midst of his tightly-packed lyrical flows and simple, acoustic guitar accompaniment, there’s some interesting musical and pop culture nods, too. He gives a shout out to Macy Gray quoting the line “try to say goodbye and I choke” from her Grammy award winning “I Try,” along with namechecks of David Beckham, Jack Black and Timothy Dalton.
Also, is it just me or does that guitar riff right before the chorus sound an awful lot like the iconic chord progression from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”? He may be only 23 but clearly the kid has also done his musical homework.
And though he’s young, Ed has already experienced some very real things in his life, and he doesn’t want anyone to forget that. “Take it Back” will make sure that no one does.
“Take It Back” is one of four songs that Ed Sheeran will premiere with MTV before his sophomore album X, (documented in his MTV special “Nine Days And Nights Of Ed Sheeran”) drops Monday, June 23. We’ll premiere “I’m a mess” on Sunday, June 22. Visit EdSheeran.MTV.com tomorrow for more.