The Sound Cafe
English Singer-Songwriter Ed Sheeran Has Released 'Eyes Closed' From Upcoming Fifth Studio Album
"Eyes Closed" by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is released through Asylum and Atlantic Records as the lead single from his upcoming fifth studio album, − ("Subtract").
Sheeran announced the song alongside the album, setting up several pre-order opportunities. On 9 March, he shared a preview of the song on his socials, performing parts of the song on an acoustic guitar and a piano. In a TikTok posted on the same day, it was revealed that it will be the lead single of the album. The song supposedly pays tribute to his former music entrepreneur and close friend Jamal Edwards, who died in February 2022 from a drug overdose.
Talking about the loss, Sheeran revealed, "Blue was Jamal's colour, but now is all I feel. And I guess music helps heal, so I'm dancing with my eyes closed to try get through it".
He cited his feelings of "fear, depression and anxiety" as the inspiration behind the song.
The song was prominently featured in the first trailer of Sheeran's upcoming Disney+ documentary, Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All, that will explore details of his private life.
In the song, Sheeran's voice has a rich timbre and his falsetto softens when he sings the refrain on the chorus, "I keep dancing with my eyes closed".
Writing for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis noted that the song featured percussive guitar playing and that the chorus was "insistent" and "radio friendly". Originally written as a breakup song, it took on new meaning after Sheeran suffered personal losses. The lyrics feel "more personal" and "explicitly linked to a very specific event", that of the death of Jamal Edwards.
The Harvey-inspired music video for "Eyes Closed" has been released alongside the single. Directed by Mia Barnes, the video depicts Sheeran being followed by a big blue monster that only he can see during his night out, representing his grief. He soon finds other people with their own monsters, before finally facing his own and singing the song's final line, causing it to disappear.