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Ed Sheeran has announced his new album '=' and has revealed it is a "really personal record" that is inspired by him becoming a father.
The pop superstar will release his fourth studio LP on October 29 and he says is a "coming-of-age record", with songs written about his wife Cherry and their 12-month-old daughter Lyra Antarctica.
Ed said: "'= (Equals)' is a really personal record and one that means a lot to me.
"My life changed greatly over the past few years – I got married, became a father, experienced loss, and I reflect on these topics over the course of the album. I see it as my coming-of-age record, and I can’t wait to share this next chapter with you."
To mark the announcement, the 30-year-old singer unveiled powerful new song 'Visiting Hours’, which is taken from the upcoming album.
‘Visiting Hours’ sees Ed trying to come to terms with the death of his friend and mentor, Australian music mogul Michael Gudinski, who passed away at the age of 68 in March.
Performed for the first time at Michael’s state memorial in March, the poignant track features backing vocals from Michael’s close friends, Kylie Minogue and Jimmy Barnes.
On '=', Ed is heard taking stock of his life and the people in it as he explores the varying degrees of love on 'The Joker And The Queen', ‘First Times’ and ‘2step', fatherhood on ‘Sandman’ and Leave Your Life’, while also processing his reality and career on ‘Tides’.
Written and recorded across Suffolk, London, Sweden and LA, the album has been produced by Ed, FRED and Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid, and features songwriting contributions from the likes of Steve Mac, Joe Rubel, Amy Wadge, Foy Vance, Elvira Anderfjard, David Hodges, Andrew Watt, Lou Bell, Natalie Hemby and Ben Kweller.
Ed's brother Matthew, a composer, also contributes stunning string arrangements on ‘First Times’ and ‘The Joker And The Queen’. The album artwork is a vivid collage of butterfly imagery symbolising the albums’ thread of ‘new life’ and is backdropped by one of Ed’s own abstract paintings.
In June, Ed released his 10th UK number one single, ‘Bad Habits’. Spending seven consecutive weeks at the top of the UK’s Official Singles Chart and counting, it has since become the fastest track to reach half a million sales in the UK of the year so far.
Looking ahead, on September 2, Ed will play an intimate fan show at London’s O2 Shepherds Bush Empire to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his debut album ‘+’.
Ed Sheeran ‘=’ tracklisting:
3. First Times
4. Bad Habits
5. Overpass Graffiti
6. The Joker And The Queen
7. Leave Your Life
10. Stop The Rain
11. Love In Slow Motion
12. Visiting Hours
14. Be Right Now