Ed Sheeran To Release ‘Subtract’ — An Album of Despair, Grief and Hope

Subtract is a 14-track masterpiece of despair, grief and hope. The project will be unleashed on May 5, 2023.


Arielle Markowicz


Posted on March 8, 2023

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Ed Sheeran; Photo Courtesy of Dan Martensen

There is no doubt that Ed Sheeran’s international success comes from his chart-topping albums: + (Plus), x (Multiply), ÷ (Divide) and = (Equal)—with three of the four projects rightfully claiming their spot at No. 1. Now, the smash hitmaker is concluding his mathematical album era with the release of – (Subtract), a 14-track masterpiece of despair, grief and hope, which will be unleashed on May 5. 

The British singer insists that his next album will reveal raw, emotional songwriting skills while “opening the trapdoor into my soul,” he announced in a press release Wednesday. 

“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,” he said.

Sheeran shockingly admitted that all of the album’s songs were replaced in just over a week after working through a dreadful period in his life. 

“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,” he added. 

“Within the space of a month, my pregnant wife got told she had a tumor, with no route to treatment until after the birth,” he shared, referring to Cherry Seaborn whom he shares two children with. 

Sheeran continued, “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,” he recalled, referencing a plagiarism lawsuit concerning his No. 1 hit “Shape Of You.” “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.”

Ed Sheeran; Photo Provided
Ed Sheeran; Photo Provided

The 32-year-old superstar confessed that he will be prioritizing his genuineness as a songwriter over pleasing the crowd for this project. 

“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 said. 

The Aaron Dessner-produced record was planned to be an acoustic album, but will now range from “paired back, folk-leaning textures to bolder, full-band/orchestral arrangements,” Sheeran’s record label, Atlantic, shared in a press release.

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The final track list was released Wednesday morning (Mar. 1). 

  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

The album announcement comes after the release of his single “F64,” which was Sheeran’s heartfelt response to Jamal Edwards’ death. 

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Ed Sheeran also recently announced details of a UK and European arena tour that will kick off later this month. He will begin the short trek in Manchester on March 23 before heading to London, Glasgow and Dublin. He will wrap up the tour in Paris on April 2. 

Additionally, Sheeran will soon embark on a massive North American trek, dubbed the Mathematics Tour. The trek, known as the “+ – = ÷ x Tour” a.k.a. “The Mathematics Tour,” will kick off in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium on May 6 and is set to run throughout Summer of 2023. The Mathematics Tour will wrap up on September 23 in Inglewood, CA at SoFi Stadium. 

Sheeran is bringing along special guests for the North American tour, including Khalid (May 6 ­– Sept. 2), Russ (Sept. 9 – 23), Dylan, Rosa Linn, Cat Burns, and Maisie Peters, all of whom will appear on select dates of the trek.

The tour marks Sheeran’s first North American trek since his much-anticipated 2018 Divide Tour and the hitmakers first stateside concerts in nearly five years.

Fans can head to Sheeran’s official website here to gain early access to the ticket pre-sale by pre-ordering the album before 9 am on Tuesday, March 7. Tickets go on sale at 9 am on Friday, March 10.

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