Atlantic Records UK
Release Date: May 5th 2023
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Ed Sheeran – Life Goes On (feat. Luke Combs) (Single) (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Life Goes On (feat. Luke Combs)
Everyone knows Ed Sheeran. I’m not even going to pretend that someone doesn’t know who he is, not even going to entertain that idea. What I will say is this, though. Ed has become a household phenomenon, quite literally. Not that there’s anything bad with becoming a success quite quickly, but sometimes, if you’re not careful, success can go to your head and turn you into something that you are not, or something you know you don’t want to be, but can’t stop the metamorphosis anyway. For Ed, to go from no-one hearing your name, to now everyone hearing it, is something extraordinary, like fresh air being pumped into a room that has been sealed off for hours. Because that is how I feel the music industry is sometimes like. From the same artists, the same countries, the same songs, the same messages- and then Ed Sheeran comes along, and no he is not like British boy-band group One Direction. He is different, unique, quirky at times, and by the world’s standards, a nerd. Nerd isn’t a bad term, just a term that I’m sure describes Ed quite well. And that is why I reckon his success has been as it was- people who are ‘nerds’ relate to him- it is a reminder that singing, and music isn’t just reserved for people who ‘look the part’. Because in all honesty, from afar, if I didn’t know Ed was a musician, I probably wouldn’t have picked it.
Ed has released a fair amount of album releases throughout his career- his most famous album, Divide (stylised as ÷), bore the singles ‘Castle on The Hill’, ‘Shape of You’, ‘Galaway Girl’, ‘Happier’, ‘How Would You Feel’, ‘Supermarket Flowers’ and ‘Perfect’, while other songs throughout his career that have charted well on radio, are inclusive of tracks like ‘I Don’t Care’, ‘South of the Border’, ‘Beautiful People’, ‘Photograph’, ‘Thinking Out Loud’, ‘All of the Stars’, ‘I See Fire’ and ‘Bloodstream’, to name a few. Ed’s impact is far unparalleled, maybe even since Phil Collins back in the 1980s, and though only a career spanning since 2011 till now, we’ve been able to witness countless of songs, and albums that have changed the course of music as we know it. I even wrote a blog post on Ed and his impact on society, music, and culture as a whole, as well as a review of his 2021 album = (pronounced ‘equals’). Since that album, Ed’s released a deluxe tour edition of = (my brother Josh reviewed the album here), as well as the song ‘Celestial’, a track recorded in celebration of Pokemon and it’s impact on people around the world, over the years. Now he’s unveiled his most vulnerable album to date, – (‘subtract’). A review of that particular album is coming to the site in a few months, but till then, we’ve since been introduced to yet another musical offering of which I will be ‘reviewing’ here in this post- ‘Life Goes On’, originally from Ed’s 2023 album, is given a country music makeover, as Ed duets with Luke Combs on this powerful, emotive. and heartfelt song. Ed’s primary music genre is pop, but if he continues along the country music route, I won’t be mad. Ed and Luke shine brightly in this duet, making this song one of 2023’s most impactful to date thus far.
‘Life Goes On’, originally track #4 on –, is as vulnerable, emotive, compelling, and challenging as they come, as it speaks about loss, grief, missing someone and reailsing that they are gone from your lives and that they’re never coming back (be it because of death or a falling out). And when you realise that, how do you grieve? How long do you grieve? When is it the ‘appropriate’ time for you to stop grieving and return to life as ‘normal’? ‘Life Goes On’ hints at this understanding, that there’s this unspoken rule, that after _____ length of time, then you should go ‘back to normal’…whatever normal is. And if this person is not in your life because of death, then maybe going ‘back to normal’ is indeed insensitive to the grieving person, and even a little rude. Yes, in a general sense, life goes on in the wake of death, but as both Ed and Luke expound on in the track, sometimes, it can be hard to just insert yourself back into everyday life after such an event such as a death of a friend. It may take months or even years for you to go back to ‘normalcy’, and even then, life may still not ‘go on’ as usual. And that’s ok.
‘…when Jamal passed away, I wanted the world to stop, like it did for the queen; when the queen died, everything came to a halt. And it kind of did, for the day. Jamal was of Caribbean descent, and in Caribbean culture they do this thing called the Nine Night. Every night of the week you go to the family home and everyone gathers, and everyone remembers the stories, and everyone drinks. It’s super sad and super intense but it’s kind of comforting, because you’re around everyone that he knew and everyone that he loved and you’re all sharing stories. Then on the ninth night, you have a big party, and then everyone just kind of gets back to ‘normal.’ I sort of didn’t feel like I wanted to. I know death and grief is a thing that everyone goes through, and everyone has jobs and everyone has lives, and everyone just has to get back to it. You’re sort of given this period of time where you’re expected to grieve and to be sad, and then that’s supposed to end and you’re supposed to go back to normal life. I just didn’t feel like I wanted to, and I still don’t feel like I want to. I don’t feel like you have to get over stuff. I don’t think it’s something that is a must; I think it’s something you can live with and something that if you want to cry you can cry, if you want to remember in a nice way… On his birthday last year, I went out and remembered him and had fun. You can do things like that. It was just weird how life resumed…’
‘Life Goes On’ is a great song of 2023, and by far, should be a talking point for both Ed and Luke in the near future. Ed’s 2023 album is even now being considered to be the highest-grossing album of 2023 thus far, and if it’s anything like ‘Life Goes On’, then for me personally, it’ll be one of my favourite albums of the year, when it comes to end of December. Ed’s new song is one of reflection, but also one of assurance, hope, and peace, knowing that life going on isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just something that happens in the grieving process. A must-listen if you’ve loved British music the past, Ed’s music in general, or if you can appreciate pop music with a slight inspirational edge; Ed’s music has always been thought-provoking, and this new song is no different. Well done Ed for this new musical offering. Can’t wait to whatever new direction Ed has in the upcoming months and years ahead.
RIYL: Robbie Williams, Take That, Ronan Keating, Luke Combs