The National's Aaron Dessner Produced Ed Sheeran's New Album

He also co-wrote '-' (a.k.a. 'Subtract')

BY Alex HudsonPublished Mar 2, 2023

The National's Aaron Dessner effectively bridged the gap between indie folk and mainstream pop with his 2020 collaborations with Taylor Swift, and now he's looking to do the same with Ed Sheeran. Dessner produced the mega-star's new album, - (a.k.a. Subtract), due out May 5 on Asylum/Atlantic.

Fittingly, it was mutual friend Swift who introduced Dessner and Sheeran. Just as he did with Swift, Dessner co-wrote the album with Sheeran, with the pair penning more than 30 songs during a month-long studio session. The resulting 14 cuts range from stripped-down folk to grand orchestral numbers.

Sheeran had apparently been plotting Subtract for a decade, but he replaced everything he had worked on following two incidents in his personal life: his friend Jamal died suddenly, and his pregnant wife was diagnosed with a tumour that couldn't be treated until after she gave birth.

"As an artist I didn't feel like I could credibly put a body of work into the world that didn't accurately represent where I am and how I need to express myself at this point in my life. This album is purely that. It's opening the trapdoor into my soul. For the first time I'm 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. This is last February's diary entry and my way of making sense of it," Sheeran said in a statement.

This is the last of Sheeran's mathematical albums, following 2021's =. The tracklist is below; Sheeran hasn't yet shared any material from Subtract.


1. Boat
2. Salt Water
3. Eyes Closed
4. Life Goes On
5. Dusty
6. End of Youth
7. Colourblind
8. Curtains
9. Borderline
10. Spark
11. Vega
12. Sycamore
13. No Strings
14. The Hills of Aberfeldy

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