Talent Recap

Ed Sheeran’s New Album ‘Subtract’ is an Emotional Work of Art, Track by Track Review

Ed Sheeran at Sirius XMGetty Images

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Ed Sheeran’s latest album, “-” or Subtract, delves into the depths of his emotions, showcasing a departure from his signature radio hits. With a focus on unfiltered honesty and emotional intelligence, Sheeran takes listeners on a cathartic journey that reveals the most vulnerable parts of his soul.

Ed Sheeran’s Subtract Album Review

“Boat” sets the perfect tone as the album opener, capturing a sense of simplicity and resilience that resonates deeply. It stands as an anthem for overcoming adversity, making it an ideal track to kick off the album. The next track, “Salt Water,” delves into the darkest corners of Sheeran’s mind, exploring his own suicidal thoughts. The song becomes an ambitiously unnerving folk-pop sing-along, provoking introspection and raw emotions.

The lead single, “Eyes Closed” captures the essence of the album, expressing Sheeran’s sorrow and the struggle to move forward after losing a loved one. Reflecting on the theme of grief, “Life Goes On” offers a stark contrast to “Eyes Closed” with its uncluttered folk sound and cracked vocals.

Amidst the album’s wrenching songs, “Dusty” provides a calm reprieve. Inspired by Dusty Springfield and Sheeran’s young daughter, this restrained electro-pop track showcases a moment of supported maturity and self-reflection. In “End of Youth,” Sheeran encapsulates his best qualities as a songwriter. With “Colourblind,” Sheeran moves away from plucky love songs and delves into a new realm of personal evolution.


The track “Curtains,” features ornate production details, including the playing of 11 instruments. While its driving tempo and rousing messaging make it a strong candidate for a future single. Sheeran fearlessly employs an all-falsetto chorus in “Borderline,” making it a compelling listen that showcases his vocal range.

“Spark” serves as capable connective tissue within the album’s back half, exploring the theme of letting go of a troubled past. On the hushed and confessional “Vega,” Sheeran candidly admits to struggling with personal hardships.

Written during a time of dread and personal upheaval, “Sycamore” beautifully captures Sheeran’s vulnerability and introspection. In “No Strings,” Sheeran explores the complexities of modern relationships with a touch of nostalgia. Closing the album on a contemplative note, “The Hills of Aberfeldy” transports listeners to Sheeran’s hometown, weaving a vivid portrait of both nostalgia and longing.

Final Thoughts on Ed Sheeran’s Album, Subtract

Subtract certainly marks a significant shift in Sheeran‘s musical career. While his previous albums relied on pop machinery and catchy hooks, this album showcases his growth as a songwriter. It also shows his willingness to explore his deepest feelings.

While Subtract may not deliver the immediate radio hits that have characterized Sheeran’s previous albums, it excels in its honesty and vulnerability. It is an album that demands attention and also rewards repeated listens. It allows the listener to connect with Sheeran on a deeply personal level.

In a music industry often driven by commercial success, Sheeran’s willingness to create a deeply personal album is commendable. This album proves that Sheeran isn’t afraid to explore new territories and then delve into the depths of his emotions. Which ultimately creates an authentic and also a moving musical experience for his listeners.

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