Entertainment Music Ed Sheeran Reveals New Single 'Eyes'' Closed' Is About Pain of Friend's Death: 'Music Helps Heal' The new single will be the first off Ed Sheeran's upcoming album - (pronounced Subtract), which drops May 5 By Julia Moore Julia Moore Twitter Julia Moore is a digital news writer at PEOPLE. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has been working at PEOPLE since 2022. People Editorial Guidelines Published on March 15, 2023 11:35 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: ANNIE LEIBOVITZ Ed Sheeran's new album - (pronounced Subtract) is set to be his most personal yet. In a candid Instagram post on Wednesday, Sheeran, 32, announced the upcoming release of his first song from the album, "Eyes Closed," which drops March 24. "This song is about losing someone, feeling like every time you go out and you expect to just bump into them, and everything just reminds you of them and things you did together," he wrote in a caption, alluding to the Feb. 22 death of his friend Jamal Edwards of cardiac arrest following recreational drug use at age 31. "You sorta have to take yourself out of reality sometimes to numb the pain of loss, but certain things just bring you right back into it," Sheeran continued before confirming the upcoming single is about the loss of the music entrepreneur and DJ, who helped launch Sheeran's career in its early days. "Blue was Jamal's colour, but now is all I feel," added Sheeran. "And I guess music helps heal, so I'm dancing with my eyes closed to try get through it." The single announcement comes after Sheeran teased the chorus of the song in a pair of TikTok videos last week. In one video, Sheeran sang the track while duetting with videos of himself playing an acoustic guitar. In another, he sat down to play at a piano. "So I'm dancing with my eyes closed/'Cause everywhere I look I still see you/Time is moving so slow/And I don't know what else that I can do," he sang. "So I'll keep dancing with my eyes closed/Oh I'll keep dancing with my eyes closed." Ed Sheeran Salutes Taylor Swift for Introducing Him to Mutual Collaborator Aaron Dessner: 'You Rock' Sheeran's upcoming album, set for release on May 5, touches on the feelings the singer experienced in the wake of his friend's death, as well as a variety of other hardships he faced around the same time. "I had been working on Subtract for a decade, trying to sculpt the perfect acoustic album, writing and recording hundreds of songs with a clear vision of what I thought it should be," he said in a March 1 Instagram post. "Then at the start of 2022, a series of events changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art." Sheeran said that "within the space of a month, my pregnant wife got told she had a tumor, with no route to treatment until after the birth, my best friend Jamal, a brother to me, died suddenly and I found myself standing in court defending my integrity and career as a songwriter." The "Shivers" singer turned to music to help him cope with the onslaught of emotions during that tumultuous period. "Writing songs is my therapy. It helps me make sense of my feelings. I wrote without thought of what the songs would be, I just wrote whatever tumbled out. And in just over a week, I replaced a decade's worth of work with my deepest darkest thoughts," he added. Sheeran and his wife, Cherry Seaborn, went on to welcome their second daughter in May of last year. He was also awarded over $1 million in legal costs after winning the plagiarism suit over his hit song "Shape of You." ANNIE LEIBOVITZ Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. The new album, which completes the series of mathematical albums he began with his debut album + (Plus) in 2011, is "opening the trapdoor into my soul," Sheeran said in the post. "For the first time I'm not trying to craft an album people will like, I'm merely putting something out that's honest and true to where I am in my adult life. This is last February's diary entry and my way of making sense of it. This is Subtract."