Ed Sheeran finishes his math symbol albums with his latest release “-” (subtract)

British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has been known for using math symbols as his album names since the release of his debut album “+” (plus) in 2011. On May 5th, 2023, Sheeran came full circle in the math symbols journey with the release of “-” (subtract). It’s a beautifully written yet terribly sad album.

The album cover for “-” (subtract).
The album cover for “-” (subtract). (Ed Sheeran)

He described the album as “opening the trapdoor into his soul” after the discovery of his pregnant wife’s tumor and the death of his best friend. This is seen in the album tracks, especially the song “Life Goes On.” The lyrics “I watched the sun setting down /

I am so afraid, I need you now” perfectly conveyed the feelings of the album and the message of the song itself.

The whole album is acoustic, which is fitting for the depression conveyed in the songs and typical of Sheeran’s style. However, this album sticks out to me more than the other acoustics of his discography because of the raw honesty and true beauty of the lyrics. Most songs make an effort to either highlight the lyrics or the instrumentals of a song over a blend of both, and Sheeran’s choice of highlighting the lyrics of each individual song by making the entire album acoustic was a good choice, as the foundation of “-” is the lyrics. 

Some people have complained that the entire album being acoustic makes every song blend together. It’s a valid complaint, but for me, every song being acoustic was a smart choice, as it let me focus on the lyrics. If the instrumentals were more upbeat, then it would’ve made the songs feel happier when the base of the album is depression and grief. 

Overall, Ed Sheeran crafted a beautifully honest and sad album and is a work of art, just like his previous works.