‘I felt like I was drowning’: Ed Sheeran announces new album ‘Subtract’ exploring ‘darkest thoughts’

The British singer revealed the deep narrative behind the forthcoming release

Megan Graye
Wednesday 01 March 2023 10:20 GMT
Ed Sheeran's amazing story

Ed Sheeran has announced his new album, Subtract (-) which is due for release in May.

Sharing the news on Wednesday morning (1 March), the 32-year-old opened up about the inspiration behind the new body of work.

“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,” began the singer on the forthcoming record.

However, after “series of events that changed [his] life”, the new album will instead revisit the singer’s songwriter roots and covering his personal grief and hope.

”At the start of 2022, a series of events changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art. Writing songs is my therapy. It helps me make sense of my feelings.”

“I wrote without thought of what the songs would be, I just wrote whatever tumbled out. And in just over a week, I replaced a decade’s worth of work with my deepest darkest thoughts. Within the space of a month, my pregnant wife got told she had a tumour, with no route to treatment until after the birth,” said the singer.

“My best friend Jamal, a brother to me, died suddenly 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.”

Sheeran said the album represents where he is now and “how [he] needs to express [himself] at this point in his life.

“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. This is last February’s diary entry and my way of making sense of it,” he said. “This is Subtract.

The Grammy-winning British singer released his last album Eqauls (=) in November 2022. Subtract is the last in Sheeran’s mathmatical album era.

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In a three-star review of the record, The Independent described it as “songs that provide a deeper insight into the ‘normal bloke’ the world has come to know”.

The last album saw Sheeran tackle subjects such as becoming a father for the first time, his marriage and the success of his career.

Since the release of his third album Divide, Sheeran has two children with his wife Cherry Seaborn, who he married in 2019.

The singer recently returned to Instagram after a social hiatus in aid of his mental health.

Subtract is due for release on 5 May

Back in January, Sheeran uploaded a video captioned: “Back in the bitz,” as he addressed fans directly, promising to be making more personal posts going forward.

“Hi guys, so I realise I haven’t been that engaged in my social media or my fan base online over the last couple of years,” he said, before whispering into the camera: “And the things that have been posted on this account might have got a bit boring. I’m sorry, it’s my fault.”

Explaining why he had been absent from the platform for so long, Sheeran said: “The reason I’m making this video is – just being totally honest – I’ve had some turbulent things happening in my personal life,” Sheeran explained. “So I just didn’t really feel like being online and pretending to be something I’m not when I wasn’t feeling like that.

“I know that sounds weird, but hence I’m making this video to say that things are looking up and I’m back online. So weird s*** is going to start being posted here,” he added.

Subtract is due for release on 5 May.

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