After much teasing, Ed Sheeran is adding to fans’ lives by giving them a new album: -, pronounced Subtract. Due out May 5, it follows X (Multiply), ÷ (Divide) and = (Equals).
Ed wrote and produced the album with Aaron Dessner of The National, who Ed’s pal Taylor Swift worked with on her albums folkore and evermore. Dessner also co-wrote songs for the 3am and Deluxe editions of Midnights.
In a lengthy statement, Ed reveals that he’d been working on Subtract for 10 years, “trying to sculpt the perfect acoustic album, writing and recording hundreds of songs with a clear vision of what I thought it should be.”
But in 2022, he writes, “a series of events changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art.” Those things — all of which happened within a month — were the death of his best friend Jamal Edwards, the lawsuit accusing him of plagiarizing “Shape of You,” and a serious medical issue faced by his wife Cherry, who was expecting their second child.
“My pregnant wife got told she had a tumor, with no route to treatment until after the birth,” Ed explains. “…I was spiraling 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.”
So, he continues, he wrote songs as therapy, and “in just over a week, I replaced a decade’s worth of work with my deepest darkest thoughts.”
As a result, Ed writes, Subtract is an “opening the trapdoor into my soul.”
He notes, “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.”