“The theme of the record is me turning 30, becoming a dad, losing a friend, trying to balance work and marriage,” Ed Sheeran tells Apple Music of his fourth full-length LP, =. “It’s stuff that really has meant a lot to me.”
The follow-up to 2017’s all-conquering ÷ was originally conceived as an acoustic record, with Sheeran setting up in Nashville way back in 2018 to work. = is Sheeran’s most personal, moving record to date. And he has just one request before you press play. “Please just listen to it once in order, that’s all I ask,” he says. “I don’t care what you do after your first listen. Put songs on a playlist, put the album on shuffle—whatever you want.