Unlike sausage, music — at least that of pop giant Ed Sheeran — does improve when you know how it’s made. The documentary “Songwriter” travels with the musician as he creates his most recent album, “Divide,” writing and recording future hits like "Castle on the Hill," "Shape of You" and "Galway Girl."
“Songwriter” follows Sheeran as he and collaborators like Benny Blanco and Foy Vance compose songs, with the setting shifting from a tour bus to a quiet Malibu house, a New York apartment and the Queen Mary 2. Single chords evolve into verses and then entire songs as Sheeran creates an album along the journey.
Director Murray Cummings is Sheeran’s cousin, but their familial connection doesn’t add depth beyond some fun footage of a young Sheeran that doesn’t entirely cohere with the rest of the film but will please fans nonetheless. “Songwriter” is intimate while oddly lacking insight into the artist himself, beyond the heart he pours into his lyrics.
Whether a veiled ad for Sheeran’s discography, MacBooks (no obscured logos here) or Apple Music itself, this Apple Music-exclusive documentary still inspires. Both Sheeran’s legion of fans (who know all the words to “Perfect”) and those simply interested in the craft of music-making will be entranced by the creative process as they witness formless things taking the shape of something familiar.
Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes