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In the second episode of the new George Ezra & Friends podcast, Ezra and Sheeran—both English singer-songwriters—discuss everything from musical influences to what it’s like trying to break into the music scene as a teenager. Clocking in at around 43 minutes, Sheeran takes Ezra and his listeners through what’s basically a condensed timeline of his entire career. Apparently he decided to pursue a career in music while watching Eric Clapton perform “Layla” at Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee celebration in 2002 (which is the most British origin story we’ve ever heard) and rose to fame by emulating James Blunt’s impressive work ethic.
The information that most people are taking away from the interview, however, is that Sheeran isn’t giving us another pop album—at least not anytime soon. And according to Sheeran, the success of “Shape of You” is part of the reason why. “People expect you to come and the next album they’re going to be like ‘it has to be bigger than ‘Shape of You’ and it has to sell more than this,” Sheeran explains. “But if I control it and go, ‘Here’s a lo-fi record that I really fucking love,’ my fans are gonna be like ‘Yay!’, and the pop world are gonna be like ‘oh well, maybe the next one.”
In other words? His next album will be much more acoustic and low-key than what we’ve come to expect from the man who brought us “Perfect” and “Don’t.” Sheeran compared his intended plan to Coldplay’s release of Ghost Stories in 2014, noting that the band experimented with genre and sound despite experiencing success with the poppier Viva la Vida and Mylo Xyloto.
The news is somewhat disappointing, but Sheeran’s logic is sound—by reminding fans and critics that not every Ed Sheeran single can (or should) be as monumental as “Shape of You,” he reduces the risk of disappointing those fans and critics the next time he decides to sit down and put together a pop album. The prospect of a folksier-sounding Sheeran is exciting, too, especially since he’s apparently been working on his next project since 2011 (when he dropped his first studio album, Plus) and already has six or seven tracks written. Will he stick to his album-naming pattern and dub his next project “Minus,” or will he surprise us all and come up with a name that’s completely out of the blue?
Sheeran has a few other interesting things to say in his interview with Ezra, including that he intended to write “Shape of You” for Little Mix before eventually writing it for Rihanna (and later claiming the tune for himself). If you want to check out the entire thing (and listen to more of George Ezra’s very deep and oddly soothing voice), you can visit the George Ezra & Friends website or look for the podcast on iTunes.