English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has released is the fourth studio album, =.
Pronounced “equals”, the album was released on 29 October 2021 through Asylum Records and Atlantic Records. It was supported by the singles “Bad Habits” and “Shivers”, along with “Visiting Hours”, a promotional single.
Sheeran borrows from any style that crosses his path — elements of folk, hip-hop, pop, dance, soul, and rock can be heard in his big hits “The A Team,” “Sing,” “Thinking Out Loud,” and “Shape of You” — which gives him a broad appeal among different demographics, helping to elevate him to international stardom not long after the release of his 2011 debut, +. When Ed Sheeran released +, he just had turned 20.
The self-released EP You Need Me arrived in 2009 — it followed 2006’s eponymous EP and 2007’s Want Some? — but his momentum started to build in 2010 thanks to the EPs Loose Change and Songs I Wrote with Amy and, especially, performance videos he posted to YouTube.
After a final independent EP, No. 5 Collaborations, arrived in January 2011, he signed a contract with Elton John’s management team. All of this laid the groundwork for a busy 2011. Sheeran entered the studio with Jake Gosling to record his major-label debut. Its first single, “The A Team,” arrived in June 2011, entering the charts at number three.
August brought “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You,” setting the stage for the September release of +. Assisted by the success of November’s single “Lego House,” the record became a huge hit in the U.K., a fact underscored by his win of British Breakthrough in the 2012 Brit Awards.
Sheeran’s success soon spread to Australia, Europe, Canada, and then the United States. He received a boost in the U.S. by opening for Snow Patrol in 2012, but that paled in comparison to the exposure he received opening for Taylor Swift on her Red tour in 2013.
His endorsement from Swift, combined with his landing of the closing credits song “I See Fire” for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, set Sheeran up for an eventful 2014.
Early in 2017, he released two singles, “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape of You,” with the latter reaching number one on the charts throughout the world. Their parent album, ÷, appeared in March.
÷ topped the pop charts in over 20 territories, including the U.K. and U.S., and it generated another international hit in “Galway Girl.” Ed Sheeran’s massive popularity was confirmed in June 2017, when he was awarded an MBE on the occasion of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
In 2019, he paired with Justin Bieber for the single “I Don’t Care.” It was the first of a series of duets which Sheeran collected on No. 6 Collaborations Project. The album appeared on July 12, 2019, and topped numerous charts just a few weeks after the release of Yesterday, a Danny Boyle film set in an alternate world where the Beatles never existed that featured Sheeran in a pivotal role. No. 6 Collaborations Project went on to be nominated for a Grammy in the Best Pop Vocal Album category.
Listen to = (equals) below: