Ed Sheeran says new album takes him 'outside comfort zone'

Wed May 28, 2014 2:50pm EDT
 
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By Holly Rubenstein

LONDON (Reuters) - British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has his share of admirers, among them superstar Elton John, and the 23-year-old is hoping to expand his growing U.S. fan base with his new album entitled simply "x".

The first single from the album, "Sing", produced and co-written by multiple Grammy winner and hit-maker Pharrell Williams, is a step away from Sheeran's laid-back acoustic sound and he hopes it will provide further proof of his versatility.  

"'Sing' was a song that I did with Pharrell Williams and it was a very random studio session where he was forcing me to try new things and really pushing me outside my comfort zone and we just ended up with that song," Sheeran told Reuters in an interview that was embargoed for release this week.

"I think he knew how special it was and I needed a lot of convincing and I'm glad he convinced me," he said.

The album "x" (read as "multiply") follows Sheeran's 2011 debut "+" ("plus") which went 22 times platinum worldwide and was the highest selling debut for a male British solo artist in the United States.

That made Sheeran the biggest selling British artist since 2011.

Sheeran became more widely known in the United States in 2012 when he featured on Taylor Swift's track "Everything Has Changed" on her album 'Red'. He later spent much of 2013 touring North America as Swift's opening act on her Red tour.

Asked if he saw Swift as having been his ticket to U.S. success, Sheeran said, "I think Taylor as a musician, as a person and as an entity is one of the biggest exports from the United States of America so to have her seal of approval, enough to take me on tour for six months was, you know, instrumental to me breaking the States.   Continued...

 
Singer Ed Sheeran performs at the 2014 Wango Tango concert at StubHub Center in Carson, California May 10, 2014.   REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni