After Taylor Swift surprise-released folklore in summer 2020, inquiring critics and fans (namely, us) began to wonder which pop star would hole up to make their serious, stripped-back, cottagecore-inspired album next. Well, if you said Ed Sheeran, it may be time to cash in on that bet. Sheeran said he’s been working with Aaron Dessner, the multi-instrumentalist for the National who executive produced folklore alongside Jack Antonoff. And what’s more, he said it under oath.
Okay, let’s backtrack. Sheeran has been caught in a copyright dispute in the U.K. over his 2017 megahit “Shape of You,” which the grime musician Sami Switch and producer Ross O’Donoghue say pulls from their 2015 song “Oh Why.” Sheeran is claiming he hadn’t heard the song before he wrote “Shape of You,” which Switch and O’Donoghue’s lawyers contest. When Sheeran took the stand Monday, lawyers for Switch and O’Donoghue questioned him over his songwriting process, during which the Dessner revelation came up. Sheeran said he’d recently spent a week with Dessner and the pair wrote 25 songs, Reuters reported.
Teasing your new album in court? Now that might be a new one. But working with Dessner would make sense for Sheeran, who’s been a close friend and collaborator of Swift’s since he guested on her Red song “Everything Has Changed” in 2012. The two recently teamed up to rerecord the song for Red (Taylor’s Version) last year, and in February, Sheeran tapped Swift for a remix of his 2021 song “The Joker and the Queen.” The only question is, what math symbols are left for Sheeran to name this new album?