Ed Sheeran claims he “spiraled” into sadness last year when his wife was diagnosed with cancer, and his buddy Jamal Edwards passed away suddenly at 31.
Cherry Seaborn, the star’s childhood girlfriend he married in 2019, was diagnosed with a tumor while pregnant with their second kid.
He explained that there was “no path to treatment until after the birth.”
The celebrity was in court daily, facing a copyright trial.
The star added in a handwritten message uploaded on social media that the incidents “changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music.”
As a result, he deleted “hundreds” of songs for his upcoming sixth album.
Sheeran and Seaborn welcomed their second child in May of last year. The singer made no mention of his wife’s health.
Sheeran was writing to fans to herald the release of – (Subtract), an acoustic album produced by Aaron Dessner and composed against a “backdrop of grief and hope.”
The album had been planned for a long time as the culmination of his “mathematical era,” which began with + (Plus) in 2011 and proceeded with x (Multiply), (Divide), and =. (Equals).
However, the entire production was redone during a week-long emotional outpouring last February, when the actor was “spiraling through fear, depression, and anxiety.”
A coroner ruled that Edwards, who gave Sheeran his first big break, died of a heart attack after using cocaine and drinking alcohol.
Sheeran then faced a three-week copyright trial for allegedly plagiarizing his smash song Shape Of You.
Despite winning, the singer and his co-writer, Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid, said the lawsuit had put them under “extraordinary stress.”
Sheeran utilized songwriting to “make sense” of his feelings to get through those events.
“I felt like I was drowning, with my head below the surface, looking up but unable to break through for air,” he recalled.
“I wrote without planning the songs; I just wrote whatever came to mind. I replaced a decade’s work with my darkest, most introspective thoughts in just over a week.”
“For the first time, I’m not attempting to create an album that people will enjoy; instead, I’m simply releasing something honest and true to where I am in my adult life.”
“It’s allowing access to my soul.”
The album is set to be released on May 5, with Sheeran performing a few performances in London, Dublin, Glasgow, Manchester, and Paris around the end of March to launch the first song.
The record follows January’s one-off single F64, an emotional reaction to Jamal Edwards’ death.
Sheeran’s mathematical quintology has propelled him to the top of the British music charts, with songs like Shape Of You and Thinking Out Loud among the most-streamed of all time.
According to a press announcement from Sheeran’s record label, Atlantic, the album Subtract will now span from “paired back, folk-leaning textures to bolder, full-band/orchestral arrangements.”
Unlike his previous albums, the artwork for Subtract does not center on the mathematical symbol of the title, instead depicting a corroding heart.
The singer also shared a strange video on Instagram, in which his song names are written into the sands of a windswept beach and are intercut with images of what appears to be a child’s birthday celebration.
Dessner, widely known as the alternative rock band The National leader, produced Sheeran’s album after mutual friend Taylor Swift met the two.
Dessner also worked with Swift on her Grammy-nominated lockdown album Folklore.
“This is my way of making sense of last February’s diary entry,” Sheeran ended. “This is called Subtract.”