In a time-honored tradition, Ed Sheeran is trying to drink and drug his problems off his mind in “Bloodstream,” a new searing track he dropped today from his June 23 release, “X.”
Like the much more upbeat, “Sing,” he”s imbibing in substances but this time it”s not to chase a high, it”s to chase away the pain of past sins. “This is how it ends/I feel the chemicals burn in my bloodstream/fading out begin/I feel the chemicals in my bloodstream/so tell me when it kicks in,” he sings in the acoustic guitar-based ballad.
The devastation that he feels as he tries to numb himself is all the more evident because of the way that Sheeran delivers the tragic lyrics, calmly and with resignation. The Rick Rubin-produced song builds at the end as layered vocals repeat “going down and down” under his singing before going back to only his voice with little accompaniment. The last word, “brokenhearted,” is left as our final image.
The spare “Bloodstream” is the latest track released by Sheeran as he puts out a song a day towards “X”s” street date. Yesterday, he put out “Afire Love.” The song is another heartbreaker about someone close to Sheeran who is sick and no longer able to recognize those around him/her. The person dies as the song progresses and Sheeran finds himself surrounded by family and friends at the funeral, somewhat comforted by the story of his grandparents and their love story. Bolstered by a swaying beat, the song takes a sad topic and tries to turn it into a unifying, spiritual event as we all “rise from our seats to sing 'Hallelujah'.”