By Chloe Chang
Photo by Annie Leibovitz
On April 21st, Ed Sheeran released the single "Boat" from his upcoming album Subtract (-)! This single follows the release of "Eyes Closed."
Sheeran explained how "Boat," along with Subtract (-), represents his struggles and emotions over the past few years. In an Instagram post, Sheeran wrote, "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." The themes of "Boat" seemingly relates to what Sheeran revealed about his wife's health and the passing of his best friend. In the same post, he stated, "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 spiralling 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."
The lyrics of "Boat" portray a sense of strength in the face of difficulty with lyrics such as, "Came in for the embers / Stayed out for the breeze / I need to feel elements to remind me / There's beauty when it's bleak," and, "The more that I love, the less that I feel / The times that I jumped never were real / They say that all scars will heal, but I know / Maybe I won't / But the waves won't break my boat."
"Boat" is the first song Sheeran wrote and finished for Subtract (-), and it will be the first track on the album according to one of Sheeran's Instagram posts. He wrote that it's "a good way to kick of the album."
Subtract (-) will be Sheeran's sixth studio album following +, x, ÷, No. 6 Collaborations Project, and =. Sheeran has been using Instagram to tease other songs from Subtract (-), in his "Subtract Sundays" series. In each video, he performs a song from the new album acoustically and explains the meaning and inspiration behind it. The most recent song featured on "Subtract Sundays" was "Sycamore," which Sheeran said is about "finding out the worst possible news you can find out about someone you love."
To add to an already busy year, Disney+ will be releasing a documentary about Ed Sheeran which will give a look behind the scenes into his life. The series will be called The Sum of It All and will be released on May 3rd!
Subtract is out on May 5th, and "Boat" is available now on all platforms!