In early February, Ed Sheeran apologized for his lack of social media activity and cited a series of ‘turbulent’ events in his personal life. At the time, he didn’t elaborate on what those events were but wanted fans to know that things were looking up and he was back online and excited to perform.
On Wednesday, Sheeran took to Twitter to share a diary entry from February that gave some insight into what those turbulent events were and how it has inspired his newest album, Subtract – which is set to release on May 5, 2023, according to the tweet. The album is available for pre-order now on his website.
In the diary entry, he explains how he has been ‘working on Subtract for a decade’ as he attempted to ‘sculpt the perfect acoustic album.’ He wrote and recorded hundreds of songs, trying to find the perfect sound in hopes of releasing something that everyone will like – much like he has done in the past.
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“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,” he wrote in the diary. “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.”
After a week of writing and recording, he ended up replacing ‘a decades worth of work with my deepest, darkest thoughts.’ He went on to explain three events, in particular, that inspired the album – citing medical concerns over his wife and his baby, the death of a close friend, and a plagiarism lawsuit.
“Within the space of a month, my pregnant wife got told she had a tumor with no route for treatment until after the birth. My best friend Jamal, a brother to me, died suddenly, and I found myself in court defending my integrity and career as a songwriter,” he wrote. “I was spiraling through fear, depression, and anxiety.”
Sheeran has opened up about Jamal Edwards, a British music entrepreneur who died on Feb. 20, 2022, ultimately saying he owed his career to his best friend’s support. As for the lawsuit, Sheeran ultimately won the case against his song ‘Shape of You.’ He didn’t elaborate any further on his wife’s tumor.
Ed Sheeran Wanted New Album to Reflect His Truest Emotions
Ed Sheeran further explained his reasoning for changing the tune, meaning, and ultimately the feel of his newest album. While he normally likes to write music that others will gravitate to, this album was about him, his true feelings, and where he’s currently at in his life – bringing out raw emotions like never before.
“As an artist, I didn’t feel like I could credibly put out 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,” he wrote. “This album is purely that. It’s opening the trapdoor into my soul,” – comparing the recent turbulent events to ‘drowning.’
The title for the album – Subtract, or – for short – continues a running theme with his albums. His debut album in 2011 was titled + (plus) and he followed that up with x (multiply) in 2014, ÷ (divide) in 2017, = (equal) in 2021, and now – (subtract) in 2023. Sheeran has sold more than 150 million records worldwide.
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“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,” he continued – sharing a photo of him sitting at a desk writing in his diary.
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