On Friday (May 5), Ed Sheeran revealed his sixth studio album titled “Subtract.” However, that wasn’t the only surprise he had in store for his fans. Later in the day, he also released a full visual album to accompany the emotional studio set. The visual album consists of a music video for each of the 14 songs on the album’s standard track list, including the previously released ones for singles “Eyes Closed” and “Boat,” to tell the story of “Subtract.”
The visual album starts with Sheeran being sent plunging off a cliff into the ocean in the “Boat” video, after which it unfolds chapter by chapter as he performs some of the album’s vulnerable highlights. In “Life Goes On,” he drags a giant anchor chained to his ankle as a stark representation of the loss of his best friend Jamal Edwards in February 2022, while in “End of Youth,” he is surrounded by children playing in a schoolyard as he sorrowfully ponders the ending of youth and the pain that comes with it.
All the videos were directed by Mia Barnes in Sheeran’s hometown of Suffolk, England, but one of the most powerful visuals of the bunch is for “Sycamore,” a subdued ballad that revisits the panic and helplessness Sheeran felt when his wife, Cherry Seaborn, was diagnosed with cancer while six months pregnant with their second daughter. Fortunately, Seaborn is now cancer-free, as the singer revealed at the premiere for his new Disney+ documentary, “Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All.”
In the end, “Subtract” is a story of Sheeran working through his grief and healing process, as demonstrated in the closing mini-movie for “The Hills of Aberfeldy.” As he emerges from the ocean, soaked and damaged, but ultimately intact, the hitmaker sings, “So when I’m home, I’ll hold you like I’m supposed to, yet I know I have never told you, darling, we fall in love with the hills of Aberfeldy.”