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Examining Music: Ed Sheeran's Shape Of You (Ben Edsel version)

​ ​​Image of David by John Barrett, Text & Design by David Clark Allen  ​​ ​​  ​

Many subtle differences - in particular a scratchy, percussive, finger-muted guitar part not apparent in the original track - imbue Ben Edsel's version of Ed Sheeran's massive hit The Shape Of You with a seriously sexy 'dancehall' attitude/feel.

The original bass sound (deep with a touch of high frequency distortion) has been replaced by one with more emphasis on mid-range clarity. Chords - played on a steel string acoustic guitar during the breakdown towards the end of the song - have been sampled, slightly distorted and looped throughout the final chorus in the Edsel remix - providing a tougher sonic edge to the proceedings. There's also a cajon or possibly Ed striking the body of his guitar - that isn't immediately audible in the original.

Tonal balance has been altered/tweaked throughout, additional sounds layered in to emphasis the mid frequencies - creating a harder, in your face audio quality.

Ben Edsel's vocal is straightforward/unadorned (no extra frills, just the basic melody sung straight), a plain style that gets right to heart of the matter (let's xxxx, girl). It sits well in the tighter feel of this interpretation. His inflections/accent reinforce the 'Caribbean islands' ambience of the arrangement (established by the triplet feel marimba riff - a predominant melodic instrumental element of the song - combined with the syncopated cuban flavoured cajon??? rhythms).

The timbre of this track is one of over-all clarity, crisp warmth and rhythmic ‘pluck’ - a tonal palette providing bright hardness, bite and percussive attack (introduced by the cajon, muted/pick-strummed acoustic steel string guitar rhythm and lead vocal entering after the 4 bar intro) that dances

above the central warmth/playfulness of the constant marimba pattern (between 200Hz -1kHz) and

deep, 'subby' side-compressed bass line.

A deceptively simple sounding arrangement that uses stereo space intelligently - especially to enhance the big 'drop' during the chorus (sub bass, kit drum and plucked synth strings entering). Great stuff!

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