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Ed Sheeran|Autumn Variations

Autumn Variations

Ed Sheeran

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Although it picks up a thread left hanging from - (subtract), which it follows by a mere matter of months, Autumn Variations represents a major break from tradition for Ed Sheeran in some important ways. The first of his albums to not follow a mathematical scheme in its title, Autumn Variations is also the first not to be released through a major label -- he put it out on his own imprint, Gingerbread Man -- and it also was made with one main collaborator, Aaron Dessner of the National. Many of these fresh starts are felt more than heard on Autumn Variations, which spends its 14 tracks in sepia-toned reflection. Sheeran's ruminations are inspired by the plights of his friends and family, a lyrical distance that amounts to a distinction without much difference; his reflections here feel as earnest as the personal musings that fueled -. Similarly, the vibe of Autumn Variations doesn't feel markedly distinct from -. Perhaps Dessner helps Sheeran keep his ebullience subdued -- "Amazing" and "Plastic Bag" come to the precipice of unfettered pop, then pull back -- but he mainly allows Sheeran to follow his introspective instincts, resulting in an album that sustains a mellow, melancholy mood without quite distinguishing itself as a collection of individual songs. Then again, that's kind of the point of the album: it's a pensive soundtrack for a specific season, nothing more and nothing less.

© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Autumn Variations

Ed Sheeran

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1
Magical
00:03:14

Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Juno Synthesizer - James McAlister, Guitar, Recorded by, Synthesizer, Omnichord Synthesizer, Prophet Synthesizer - JT Bates, Drums - Reggie Pace, Trombone - Josh Kaufman, Guitar - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by - Benjamin Lanz, Brass Arranger, Trombone - James Krivchenia, Tambourine, Shaker

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

2
England
00:03:46

Clarice Jensen, Recorded by - Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Drum Programmer, Mellotron, Wurlitzer, Bass Synthesizer - James McAlister, Percussion, Drum Programmer - Bryce Dessner, Loops, Orchestral Conductor - Ryan Olson, Audio Assistant - JT Bates, Kit Drums - Kyle Resnick, Recorded by - Yuki Numata, Violin - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by - Benjamin Lanz, Brass Arranger, Trombone, Recorded by, Synthesizer - Clarice Jenson, Cello

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

3
Amazing
00:04:05

Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Drum Programmer, Recorded by, Synthesizer, Bass Synthesizer - Thomas Bartlett, Piano, Recorded by, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Wurlitzer, Prophet Synthesizer - James McAlister, Guitar, Piano, Drum Programmer, Recorded by, Synthesizer, Moog, Kit Drums , Samples, Drum Arranger, Maracas Percussion, Prophet Synthesizer, Juno Synthesizer - Bryan Devendorf, Kit Drums - Josh Kaufman, Guitar - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

4
Plastic Bag Explicit
00:03:49

Glenn Kotche, Kit Drums - Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Percussion, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Juno Synthesizer - Thomas Bartlett, Piano, Recorded by, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Wurlitzer, Prophet Synthesizer - James McAlister, Percussion, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer Programmer, Recorded by, Synthesizer, Moog, Kit Drums , Maracas Percussion, Prophet Synthesizer, Juno Synthesizer, Shaker Egg Percussion - Josh Kaufman, Guitar, Synthesizer - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by - Benjamin Lanz, Brass Arranger, Trombone

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

5
Blue
00:02:33

Rob Moose, Viola, Violin, Orchestration - Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Producer, Acoustic Guitar - Foy Vance, Composer - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

6
American Town
00:03:17

Glenn Kotche, Bongo Drums, Snare Drums, Shaker - Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Kit Drums , Mellotron, Wurlitzer - James McAlister, Guitar, Lyra, Percussion, Piano, Tambourine, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer Programmer, Recorded by, Moog, Prophet Synthesizer, Juno Synthesizer, Shaker Egg Percussion - JT Bates, Kit Drums - Reggie Pace, Trombone - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by - Benjamin Lanz, Brass Arranger, Trombone

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

7
That’s On Me Explicit
00:03:47

Rob Moose, Viola, Violin, Orchestration - Glenn Kotche, Fills Drums, Percussion, Kit Drums - Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Percussion, Drum Programmer, Mellotron, Juno Synthesizer - Thomas Bartlett, Piano, Recorded by, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Prophet Synthesizer - James McAlister, Lyra, Tambourine, Synthesizer Programmer, Recorded by, Moog, Drum Loops, Prophet Synthesizer - JT Bates, Drums - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

8
Page
00:03:51

Rob Moose, Viola, Violin, Orchestration - Glenn Kotche, Tom Toms Drums - Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Percussion, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Juno Synthesizer - James McAlister, Percussion, Tambourine, Recorded by, Synthesizer, Loops, Shaker, Bass Moog, Prophet Synthesizer - Bryan Devendorf, Kit Drums - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

9
Midnight
00:02:59

Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Percussion, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Wurlitzer, Prophet Synthesizer - James McAlister, Mini Moog, Synthesizer, Kit Drums - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by - Walt Martin, Organ, Recorded by

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

10
Spring
00:02:58

Clarice Jensen, Cello, Recorded by - Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Synthesizer - Bryce Dessner, Composer, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Orchestration, Recorded by - Kyle Resnick, Recorded by - Yuki Numata, Violin - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

11
Punchline
00:03:26

Rob Moose, Viola, Violin, Orchestration, Recorded by - Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Percussion, Drum Programmer, Mellotron - Thomas Bartlett, Piano, Recorded by, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Wurlitzer, Prophet Synthesizer - James McAlister, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer Programmer, Recorded by, Synthesizer - Bryan Devendorf, Kit Drums - Reggie Pace, Trombone - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by - Benjamin Lanz, Trombone, Horns Arranger

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

12
When Will I Be Alright
00:02:55

Rob Moose, Viola, Violin, Orchestration, Recorded by - Ed Sheeran, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Acoustic Guitar - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Bridget Kearney, Upright Bass - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by - Misty Boyce, Piano

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

13
The Day I Was Born Explicit
00:04:12

Rob Moose, Viola, Violin, Orchestration - Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Kit Drums - Thomas Bartlett, Recorded by, Mellotron, Wurlitzer, Prophet Synthesizer - James McAlister, Lyra, Synthesizer Programmer, Recorded by, Moog, Prophet Synthesizer - JT Bates, Kit Drums - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by - Benjamin Lanz, Trombone, Recorded by

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

14
Head > Heels
00:04:13

Rob Moose, Viola, Violin, Orchestration, Recorded by - Glenn Kotche, Tom Toms Drums, Tambourine, Kit Drums , Shaker - Ed Sheeran, Composer, Vocals, MainArtist - Aaron Dessner, Composer, Producer, Guitar, Piano, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer Programmer, Mellotron, Bass Synthesizer, Juno Synthesizer - Randy Merrill, Masterer - Jonathan Low, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by - Bella Blasko, Engineer, Recorded by

A Gingerbread Man Records Release, © 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited A Gingerbread Man Records Release, ℗ 2023 Ed Sheeran Limited

Album review

Although it picks up a thread left hanging from - (subtract), which it follows by a mere matter of months, Autumn Variations represents a major break from tradition for Ed Sheeran in some important ways. The first of his albums to not follow a mathematical scheme in its title, Autumn Variations is also the first not to be released through a major label -- he put it out on his own imprint, Gingerbread Man -- and it also was made with one main collaborator, Aaron Dessner of the National. Many of these fresh starts are felt more than heard on Autumn Variations, which spends its 14 tracks in sepia-toned reflection. Sheeran's ruminations are inspired by the plights of his friends and family, a lyrical distance that amounts to a distinction without much difference; his reflections here feel as earnest as the personal musings that fueled -. Similarly, the vibe of Autumn Variations doesn't feel markedly distinct from -. Perhaps Dessner helps Sheeran keep his ebullience subdued -- "Amazing" and "Plastic Bag" come to the precipice of unfettered pop, then pull back -- but he mainly allows Sheeran to follow his introspective instincts, resulting in an album that sustains a mellow, melancholy mood without quite distinguishing itself as a collection of individual songs. Then again, that's kind of the point of the album: it's a pensive soundtrack for a specific season, nothing more and nothing less.

© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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