After a while away, Ed Sheeran released “Eyes Closed,” the first single off his upcoming fifth studio album, – — Subtract —. The heartbreaking pop track is about grief, and Ed wrote it after his best friend Jamal Edwards passed away on February 2022 due to a heart attack. Sheeran co-wrote the song with FRED and genius Swedish pop producers Max Martin and Shellback. The three musicians were joined by Aaron Dessner to produce the song.
Regarding “Eyes Closed,” Ed stated, “this song is about losing someone [and] feeling like every time you go out, you expect to just bump into them, and everything just reminds you of them and things you did together. You sorta have to take yourself out of reality sometimes to numb the pain of loss, but certain things just bring you right back into it. Blue was Jamal’s colour, but now it’s all I feel, and I guess music helps heal, so I’m dancing with my eyes closed to try get through it.”
In 2010, Jamal gave Ed his first break and helped him launch his music career on his YouTube channel, SBTV. Thanks to music, the pair formed a bond like no other. “Every song reminds me you’re gone, and I feel the lump form in my throat”, Sheeran sings.
Along with the song, Sheeran released a music video where he wanders around town. He’s accompanied by a big blue monster, which personifies grief, sadness, and depression. Towards the end of the video, we can see other people’s own monsters. This symbolizes that even though Ed might feel alone in his grief, he’s not really alone as others are experiencing the same process of losing a loved one. At the end, Sheeran faces his monster, which means he’s coming to terms with his feelings.
Moreover, Ed announced a new four-part documentary series called The Sum of It All, which comes out on Disney+ on May 3rd. In the trailer, Sheeran says to the producers, “you guys said you wanted to make a documentary, and I went ‘yeah, there should be me in the studio, and Imma play the gig. That’s not what the documentary is.’” Ed has always been a very private person, but, in the past few years, he has become more open about his struggles with mental health and life’s hardships. In The Sum of It All, he’ll get more personal than ever.
Similarly, – will be Sheeran’s most intimate record yet. Initially, Ed had a very different concept for the album in mind. He shared on social media that “in just over a week, I replaced a decade’s worth of work with my deepest darkest thoughts. Withing the space of a month, my pregnant wife got told she had a tumor, 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.”
Known for his lyrical abilities and hit-making beats, Sheeran admits that with –, he’s “not trying to craft an album people will like; I’m merely putting something out that’s honest and true to where I am in my adult life.” Ed’s upcoming album comes out on May 5, and we can’t wait to listen to it in full. Watch the music video for “Eyes Closed” below, and remember to stream the single.