Autumn Variations by Ed Sheeran

As Ed Sheeran was crafting his sixth studio album, 2023’s - (pronounced “subtract,” the last in his mathematical album series), something else began to take shape. Just three months after -’s arrival, Sheeran unveiled Autumn Variations, made in tandem with the most personal record he’d ever produced. But if - was about the seismic life events Sheeran had weathered—the sudden death of his best friend, the discovery that his wife had a tumor while pregnant with their second child, Sheeran’s experiences of depression and anxiety—Autumn Variations was shaped by events occurring in his friends’ worlds, too. “Last autumn [in 2022], I found that my friends and I were going through so many life changes,” said Sheeran in a statement. “After the heat of the summer, everything either calmed, settled, fell apart, came to a head, or imploded.” Perhaps surprisingly for a megastar singer-songwriter most commonly associated with pop, hip-hop, and folk, inspiration for the shape of Autumn Variations came from the classical world. The album’s title is a nod to Elgar’s Enigma Variations, a work of 14 compositions about the English composer’s friends, which Sheeran’s father and composer brother Matthew had told him about. Sheeran’s compositions were made alongside The National’s Aaron Dessner—the producer who collaborated with Taylor Swift on folklore and evermore, and who Sheeran tapped up for -. Announcing the album, Sheeran spoke of how he “clicked immediately” with Dessner: “We wrote and recorded non-stop and this album was born out of that partnership.” Autumn Variations still finds Sheeran in -’s intimate, string-laden, and

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