By Amanda Wicks
Besides penning his own songs, Ed Sheeran has written or co-written with some of the biggest names in pop, including One Direction and Taylor Swift. His writing, melodies and arrangements harken back to simpler times before pop’s form overtook its content. It’s no wonder he’s become a hit songwriter, especially when building in that certain sentimental je ne sais quoi.
Writing a love song is no easy business, but Sheeran has shown again and again that he understands how to make any listener swoon even just a little, but more likely quite a lot. He’s a songwriter who knows exactly how to tug on the heartstrings, and he uses that skill to great effect alongside Welsh songwriter Amy Wadge with whom he co-wrote “Thinking Out Loud.”
Arranged against a straightforward melody, their lyrics evoke an overwhelming sense of tenderness. In the opening verse, Sheeran sings, “When your legs don’t work like they used to before/ And I can’t sweep you off of your feet/ Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love/ Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?”
Building over a plucked guitar, the song’s soft, slow start really lands its big emotional punch at the chorus, which the song launches directly into from the first verse rather than dallying around with another. Using drums, bass and piano, Sheeran and Wadge find the ideal instrumentation and arrangement to back the song’s sentimental core without overshadowing it. What results is a love song reminiscent of Norah Jones’ earnest sentimentality combined with the stripped down love songs that ruled the 1990s like Extreme’s “More Than Words.”
In a sea of strong nominees, Sheeran and Wadge deserve the win for gracing the world with a sweet song that will stand the test of time.
The 58th GRAMMY Awards will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 15. It will air on CBS at 8 PM ET.