Ed Sheeran - (Subtract)
Release Date: May 5, 2023
- (Subtract) is an album that revisits Ed Sheeran’s singer/songwriter roots, and one that was written against a backdrop of personal grief and hope. It presents one of the biggest stars on the planet at his most vulnerable and honest.
- (Subtract) is the result of Ed Sheeran pushing the boundaries of his songcraft as he delivers the most profound songwriting of his career. Teaming up with Aaron Dessner (The National) on writing and production after the pair joined forces following an introduction from mutual friend Taylor Swift, Ed and Aaron began crafting the album in February last year. Writing over 30 songs during their month-long studio stint, the album’s fourteen tracks are seamlessly tied together by exquisite production from paired back, folk-leaning textures to bolder, full-band/orchestral arrangements.
In Ed’s own words: “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 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. 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.”
Since he first learned to play Eric Clapton's "Layla" on guitar at the age of 12, Sheeran’s love of the singer/songwriter began. Growing up with the likes of Damian Rice, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan playing on repeat in his parents’ house – artists that his dad introduced him to – (Subtract) was always on Ed’s horizon. Yet as the songs and writing process took on a whole new meaning and direction after a series of hard-hitting events impacted Ed’s world in 2022, one thing that remained untouched was his strong desire to make a record anchored in his love of singer/songwriter compositions. And now, as he releases his most soul-baring work to date, the album serves as a timely reminder for why Sheeran remains one of the most gifted lyricists of his generation; an artist who breaks down his own experiences for fans to seek comfort and belonging.
- (Subtract) is the last in the global superstar’s decade-spanning mathematical album era.