Ed Sheeran's New Album Explores The 'Darkest Period' Of His Life

By Rebekah Gonzalez

May 5, 2023

Photo: Getty Images

Ed Sheeran's highly anticipated album Subtract has arrived. On Friday, May 5th, just one day after a jury ruled he did not steal key components from Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" while writing "Thinking Out Loud," Sheeran shared one of his most vulnerable albums to date with the world. Subtract is the final installment from Sheeran's mathematical album era following + in 2011, x in 2014, ÷ in 2017, and = in 2021.

"I wrote it over the course of a month and it's basically reflective of the darkest period of my life so far and sort of processing all of that," Sheeran said in a statement. "It was super cathartic to make and I hope it's cathartic for you guys to listen to." The singer-songwriter also shared a heartfelt note to fans on Instagram the morning of the release.

In addition to the previously released singles "Eyes Closed," and "Boat," other standouts from the 14-track album (18 tracks on the Deluxe edition) include "Curtains" and "No Strings." While breaking down "Curtains" for iHeartRadio, Sheeran shared, "Sometimes we all get into places where we just want to shut ourselves out from the world and it's about having those people that you love around you that help you draw the curtains and let the sunshine in."

For the album's penultimate track, "No Strings," Sheeran said the track "sums up the record for me. It's a... hopeful song at the end of an album of sadness, I guess. The song is basically saying, 'If we can get through this then we're going to get through anything.'"

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