Ed Sheeran has revealed details for his long-in-the-works new album, which was produced and written in tandem with the National‘s Aaron Dessner. The acoustic “-” — which is already being referred to as Subtract — arrives May 5 and has been in the works in one form or another for a decade, according to the hit-making U.K. artist.
Sheeran shared a lengthy message earlier today (March 1) on social media detailing the album’s history:
“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.
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.
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. This is last February’s diary entry and my way of making sense of it. This is Subtract.”
Subtract is said to wrap Sheeran’s run of albums with mathematical symbols as their titles, which began in 2011 with “+.” His collaboration with Dessner was unexpectedly revealed in the aforementioned March 2022 court hearing, during which he fended off copyright infringement allegations over his smash 2017 single “Shape of You.”
The artist will premiere new music from the project during a short run of U.K. and European shows starting March 23 in Manchester, U.K., which will be his only 2023 European dates. He’s currently on tour in Australia and arrives in North America for shows starting in early May.
The new album is available via Sheeran’s website in a variety of formats, including a vinyl edition with nine bonus tracks. Subtract is the follow-up to 2021’s “=,” which contained hit singles such as “Bad Habits” and “Shivers.”
Ed Sheeran’s Subtract tracklisting:
“Life Goes On”
“End of Youth”
“The Hills of Aberfeldy”