A little more than a month after releasing his brand new album - (Subtract), Ed Sheeran kept the celebration of new music going during an exclusive iHeartRadio LIVE show for fans at New York City's McKittrick Hotel.
Subtract is Sheeran's sixth album following 2021's = (Equals), and showcases 14 new songs including previously-released songs like "Eyes Closed" and "Boat." During the intimate show, he treated fans to acoustic performances of the latter two and "Life Goes On," in addition to fan favorites like "Shape of You" and a mashup of "Bad Habits" and "Shivers."
Sheeran also opened up about his new album and more during a special Q&A hosted by Charlamagne Tha God, and revealed that Subtract started out as a completely different album while working with Rick Rubin after completing + (Plus). He said, "I wanted to make a 10 song perfect acoustic album. And, as stuff was unfolding last year, I just started writing songs around it. And that sort of formed into this album that I thought actually probably represents what Subtract is, better than what I'd been doing."
Ed also explained that fans just may be able to hear what he had been originally working on with Rubin after all. He said, "I would love to revisit it with Rick Rubin, because what we made eventually came became X (Multiply). I was working with Rick, I was working with Pharrell, I was working with Benny [Blanco], I was working with Johnny McDade, and it just sort of turned into Multiply. But Rick's original thing was strip it all back like he did with the Johnny Cash albums and just make these acoustic records. So, I think that would be pretty fun to do, eventually."
Whatever fans hear next from Sheeran, the singer/songwriter is moving away from naming his albums after math functions, and instead, there will be a new set of symbols. He teased, "I'm gonna do one, sort of like the original record that I was making with Aaron [Dessner], who I made Subtract with. The thing that we set out to do was finished at the same time. So, I'm gonna put that out, which is nothing to do with anything. And then I start another five symbols that have nothing to do with maths. So math, mathematics, ends this year, and then next year is something completely different."
Sheeran also opened up about some of the deeply personal songs on Subtract, including "Eyes Closed," which pays tribute to his late friend Jamal Edwards who passed away in 2022. He explained of the track, "We both lived in West London and whenever I would go out, there was a period of time between when he passed away and the funeral where I was just in denial. And I think that is a normal part of grief, but I just thought that everywhere I went that I would bump into him, and it wasn't actually until the funeral, until you're putting dirt on the grave that, so yeah. And the song was essentially about that."
Ed continued, "It wasn't necessarily hard to write. I think it was more hard to sing for the first time live. And now it's out, I have a completely different relationship with it because it's everyone else's song. But before it was out, and I was singing it at events that no one had heard the song before, it was a bit more raw I think."