Ed Sheeran will soon release his most personal project to date.
The “Perfect” singer announced that his fifth studio album, titled – (pronounced Subtract), will drop on May 5, according to a press release. The project comes at a time of monumental change in the musician’s life, including the birth of his second daughter with wife Cherry Seaborn last May.
“I had been working on Subtract for a decade, trying to sculpt the perfect acoustic album, writing and recording hundreds of songs with a clear vision of what I thought it should be,” Sheeran wrote in a statement. “Then at the start of 2022, a series of events changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art.”
This period of time contained personal struggles, which Sheeran previously shared on Instagram, but hasn’t further detailed until now. Among those events includes his legal victory over a copyright infringement case regarding his single 2017 hit “Shape of You,” mourning the loss of friend Jamal Edwards—who died last February at age 31—and a medical scare in his family.
“Within the space of a month, my pregnant wife got told she had a tumour, with no route to treatment until after the birth,” recalled Sheeran, whose baby girl joined their 2-year-old daughter Lyra Antarctica Seaborn Sheeran.
“My best friend Jamal, a brother to me, died suddenly,” he continued, “and I found myself standing in court defending my integrity and career as a songwriter. I was spiralling through fear, depression and anxiety. I felt like I was drowning, head below the surface, looking up but not being able to break through for air.”
Noting that songwriting is his “therapy” and helps him “make sense of my feelings,” Sheeran said he rewrote his upcoming album to serve as a reflection of his experiences.
“I wrote without thought of what the songs would be, I just wrote whatever tumbled out,” he explained. “And in just over a week, I replaced a decade’s worth of work with my deepest darkest thoughts.”
As of result, this album will be unlike any other project released in the past.
“As an artist I didn’t feel like I could credibly put a body of work into the world that didn’t accurately represent where I am and how I need to express myself at this point in my life,” the 32-year-old stated. “This album is purely that. It’s opening the trapdoor into my soul. For the first time I’m not trying to craft an album people will like. I’m merely putting something out that’s honest and true to where I am in my adult life.”
Concluding that the album is “last February’s diary entry and my way of making sense of it,” Sheeran added, “This is Subtract.”
It will be the last installment of his mathematical album era, which began in 2011 with debut album + (Plus). It has since expanded to x (Multiply), ÷ (Divide) and = (Equals). The tracklist for the project—which is produced by The National‘s Aaron Dessner—includes songs “Boat,” “Salt Water,” “Eyes Closed,” “Life Goes On,” “Dusty,” “End Of Youth,” “Colourblind,” “Curtains,” “Borderline,” “Spark, “Vega,” “Sycamore,” “No Strings” and “The Hills of Aberfeldy.”
-, (Subtract), will be available to stream on May 5.
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