One of the things that continually impresses me about Ed Sheeran is his phenomenal vocal range. I remember when I first saw him live, he was crooning some song and his voice started going up to a high pitch. And it kept going. And going. I sat there kind of stunned that a grown man could emit such a sound that high with such ease and not sound ridiculous.
Which brings me to his latest single, “Photograph.” In the song, he starts off in his soothing, raspy lower register. Then he reaches the chorus and his voice just shoots up there, and it immediately gives me shivers. Sometimes, I hear songs where guys will sing up in a high falsetto and I just sit thinking, “really?” because they either can’t sing that high or it isn’t necessary for the song. I remember reading a review of an album where a person wrote that just because a singer (a male one, in particular) could sing in a high register does not mean they should. I agree with this because I think music should be performed to tell a story and transcend an emotion, not to show off. Like, if you can sing in a high register, that’s incredible and impressive, but use it when it’s necessary. In the case of “Photograph,” Sheeran singing that high adds to the delicateness of the song and emits a rawness. It pulls at your heartstrings and makes you feel what he is feeling.
If, for example, Sheeran sang the chorus in a lower register, it would probably sound good (I mean, it’s Ed Sheeran), but it would not have that fragile air to it. Let’s consider Sheeran’s other song from x, “Don’t.” In this chorus, Sheeran sings it in his lower register and it adds to the aggressive anger of the song. Imagine him singing that chorus in his falsetto, it would be…well…bizarre. Just because he can sing that high, does not mean he does it all the time…he knows how to effectively use his falsetto.