Ed Sheeran announces new solo studio album =, shares heartstring-pulling single, Visiting Hours

Ed Sheeran performing live
(Image credit: Didier Messens/Redferns)

Ed Sheeran has announced his upcoming studio album, =, which is set to drop on October 29 via Asylum Records.

The LP will be Sheeran’s fifth outing, and will follow up his 2019 effort No.6 Collaborations Project, which saw him join forces with artists such as Stormzy, Khalid, Camila Cabello and H.E.R.

To usher in the news, the record-smashing singer-songwriter has dropped the album's new single, Visiting Hours, which adopts an abundance of Sheeran-style acoustic guitar strums, heartstring-tugging lyrical knockouts and a swelling arrangement crammed with choral backing singers and tasty vocoder-tinged vocals.

Continuing the mathematically themed album-naming precedent set by his previous efforts – + (2011), x (2014) and ÷ (2017) –  = is described by the Lowden signature guitar player as a “coming-of-age” effort that he began composing way back in 2017.

“I started writing and recording this album June 2017,” says Sheeran in a new statement. “It’s been a long, long process. 

“I’ve been through love, loss, new life, grief and everything in between during the whole period of writing it, and I feel like it’s really a coming of age record. I’ve never been more proud of a body of work, or more excited/nervous for you all to hear it.” 

Sheeran also went on to reveal the personal message behind the new single, saying, “The next song off of it is called Visiting Hours, which I finished for my friend Michael who sadly passed away this year.” 

Ed Sheeran = album cover

(Image credit: Ed Sheeran/Instagram)

Sheeran took a high-profile hiatus after releasing and touring his 2017 album, ÷. The 250-show tour – which began March 2017 and ended August 2019 – became the biggest, most attended and highest grossing of all time.

Upon the album’s release, each of ÷’s 16 tracks occupied the top 20 spots in the UK and Ireland charts. To be honest, if we were to write out all the records Sheeran has broken, we’d be here for a while.

The proficient loop pedal aficionado marked his return to music earlier this year with the release of dance-inducing number Bad Habits, which in turn followed up from last December’s standalone single Afterglow.

The tracklist for = can be found below:

  1. Tides
  2. Shivers
  3. First Times
  4. Bad Habits
  5. Overpass Graffiti
  6. The Joker And The Queen
  7. Leave Your Life
  8. Collide
  9. 2step
  10. Stop The Rain
  11. Love In Slow Motion
  12. Visiting Hours
  13. Sandman
  14. Be Right Now
  • = is available to preorder now ahead of its October 29 release.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.