Music

Ed Sheeran says his new album will open ‘the trapdoor into my soul’

The global superstar has announced a new album that grew out of a dark time in his life when his mental health was spiralling

Ed Sheeran, image: Annie Leibovitz

Ed Sheeran, image: Annie Leibovitz

Ed Sheeran is the biggest name in music. So when he announces a new album, it’s a great day for his legion of fans around the world. But while alongside news of the new album, called ‘-‘ (Subtract), Sheeran has also revealed how it grew from one of the darkest periods of his life.

Ed Sheeran said: “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.

“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.”

Sheeran cited the death of his friend Jamal Edwards, who he described as “a brother to me”, as well as a health scare involving his pregnant wife, Cherry Seaborn, as events that brought him towards having a mental health crisis.

At this point, he turned to music to help him through.

He explained: “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. 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.”

‘-‘ (Subtract) is Sheeran’s fifth mathematically inspired album title. It’s been confirmed that it will be the last, bringing an end to his “mathematical album era”.

Ed Sheeran, image: Annie Leibovitz
Ed Sheeran, image: Annie Leibovitz


Ed Sheeran added: “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. 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.”

The album, which will be released on May 5, will consist of 14 songs. Here is the tracklist of ‘-‘ (Subtract):

‘-‘ (Subtract) Tracklisting:

  1. Boat
  2. Salt Water
  3. Eyes Closed
  4. Life Goes On
  5. Dusty
  6. End Of Youth
  7. Colourblind
  8. Curtains
  9. Borderline
  10. Spark
  11. Vega
  12. Sycamore
  13. No Strings
  14. The Hills of Aberfeldy

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