Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran are certainly among the biggest stars in pop music right now. And both like to surprise their fan base. In 2020, Swift released her album “Evermore” just five months after “Folklore.” Sheeran is now following suit: his “Autumn Variations” will also be released on Friday around five months after “Subtract”.

The seventh studio album is also a premiere, as the Brit is releasing it on his own label for the first time. It’s called Gingerbread Man, and it’s part of Sheeran’s regular record company, Warner Music. The 32-year-old didn’t do much advertising for the fall album, apart from his own social media platforms. Only a few people were allowed to hear the songs in advance, which is now common practice for world stars.

After all: A few days ago, the songwriter performed four of his new songs at a live performance for Amazon Music in Los Angeles. The songwriter also told the audience who inspired him to create this themed album: the British composer Edward Elgar. He wrote the “Enigma Variations” in 1898. The orchestral work consisted of 14 pieces, each of which musically described a person from Elgar’s environment. His father told him about it, reports Sheeran 125 years later. “I thought it would definitely be cool to do a modern version of it.”

And so the 14 songs are about people from his circle of friends, whom he does not mention by name. “My friends have had so many different things happen: They fell in love and it was magical. They broke up, had babies, or went through depression.” The ballad “Magical” is about falling in love; in “Plastic Bag” the Brit sings about the traumatic phase of one of his friends. “When people are going through a hard time, they tend to cover it up by going out and venting. That’s what the song is inspired by,” says Sheeran.

The contemplative “Blue” is ultimately about an unresolved separation. “I’m not over you and I’ll be lonely forever,” it says. Ed Sheeran loves to bring out the big melancholy utensils in his lyrics. With his catchy pop melodies, the hit supplier usually knows how not to appear cheesy or too pathetic.

The father of two speaks of his second album of 2023 as the “most fan-oriented project” he has ever done. So he sang the songs for a suitable live LP in the living rooms of some fans and had them help create a music video. A larger crowd can experience the world star live next summer. He appears as a headliner at the Southside and Hurricane Festivals.