Photo Credit: Croke/GETTY
Ed Sheeran has always been a sensational music maker and now he is bringing more of that to the forefront for us, with his latest compilation album release titled No.6 Collaborations Project. This release is a fitting follow up to 2011’s No.5’s EP, and it is the first official studio release since 2017’s global blockbuster Divide (÷). Sheeran rocks with Chris Stapleton and Travis Scott then rolls with Bruno Mars and Cardi B with the swagger of a seasoned vet. The U.K. born musician went on to discuss his thoughts on collaborating with such a wildly diverse but esteemed group of artists. All of whom he loves and respects musically in a recent statement to Rolling Stone Magazine: “Thanks to all the amazing artists I’ve worked with on this record for sharing your talent with me. No.6 Collaborations Project comes out on July 12th, hope you like it as much as I do. I’m a huge fan of all the artists I’ve collaborated with, and it’s been a lot of fun to make.”
Sheeran stays true to the “Thinking Out Loud” hit making formula, and he makes it work like a charm. The first single titled “I Don’t Care” with Justin Bieber features a catchy pop chorus about being socially isolated except for the being in the company of his lovely lady. The follow up single “Cross Me”, has a touch of R&B flavor and stellar production, featuring appearances by Chance The Rapper and PnB Rock. Both artists compliment fantastically with quirky yet rhythm matching verses alongside Sheeran. He then switches gears on the smooth but conscious sounding “Beautiful People” with the ever-charming Khalid. Sheeran reflects on personal anti-social awareness and his seemingly less than exciting perspective on the glitz and glamour of fame behind his silky vocal delivery.
Speaking of vocals, Sheeran plays to perhaps his greatest attribute musically with another classic love ballad on the beautiful and genuine sounds of “Best Part Of Me” featuring Yebba. Which could arguably be the best song on the fifteen-track LP. On the song he candidly sings: “But she loves me, she loves me. // Why the hell does she love me, when she could have anyone else? // Oh, you love me, you love me // Why the hell do you love me? // ‘Cause I don’t even love myself.” Sheeran continues to show off his superlative writing skills on “Put It All On Me” with the fellow U.K. musician Ella Mai, with lines like: “I tried to be strong, but I got demons. // So can I lean on you? // I need a strong heart and a soft touch. // And you know when I want love.” Moving along, he brings some realness with another impressive female collab, on the humbling “I Don’t Want Your Money” featuring R&B beauty H.E.R. who croons a soothing alto over the hook: “I don’t want your money, baby, oh. // You know I just want your time.”
Elsewhere, Sheeran who is a self-proclaimed hip-hop fan, pays homage in a big way on the project. With tracks like the boastful “1000 Nights” featuring a great verse from Meek Mill and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Sheeran reminds us that he too can moderately hold his own as a rapper on this unlikely but nice team of MC’s. He then brings another attempt on “Remember The Name” reuniting fiery former Dr.Dre protégés Eminem and 50 Cent. Though not a standout, it must be noted that Eminem keeps pace as he spits lines such as: “You sleep on me ‘cause you’re only f*ckin’ with me in your dreams, not even when I’m on my deathbed. // Man, I feel like Ed, it isn’t time to drop the mic yet.”
“Sicko Mode” rapper Travis Scott joins the party on the awesomely produced “Anti-Social”, again Sheeran touching on his unassuming introverted/extroverted type of personality. Which by this time actually starts to become redundant overkill with the whole “fitting into fame” ordeal. Finally, with a little something for everyone, he adds some Latin love teaming up with Camilla Cabello and rap diva Cardi B on the spicy “South Of The Border”.
As a matter of fact and not opinion, if you like Sheeran as an artist, there are simply no bad songs on the No.6 Collaborations Project. Sticking to the script, he is still as authentic, sharp-witted, versatile and intentional as he always is. Despite being flanked by an all-star line up, his consistency is truly impeccable. The vocals, songwriting, and even producing skills (he executive produced the entire album) have not wavered one bit. This is not the case with even some of the best to ever do it. Frankly, Sheeran is just in a lane all of his own. He dabbles in everything from guitar-laced electric-pop to snares and bass drums of hi- hop and 808’s alike, and still makes it all sound amazing.