Ed Sheeran Talks New Single 'Shape of You,' Says 'Divide' Album Will Be 'Out Soon'

Recording artist Ed Sheeran performs onstage during the 2015 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

When Ed Sheeran announced his decision to go completely off the grid in 2016 to "travel the world and see everything [he] missed," it only raised the level of anticipation for new music and the official follow-up to his second studio album, 2014's x.

Right when fans reached their boiling point, the British singer-songwriter finally returned from his hiatus to unveil his two new singles "Castle on the Hill" and "Shape of You" at the top of the new year. The latter cut, a marimba-driven tune featuring R&B influences, was originally penned with Rihanna in mind but was later kept for Sheeran himself once he named dropped Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison in the song.

"It was all very female-based, and then I put in the line, 'Van the Man on the jukebox,' and I was like, 'Would Rihanna be singing about Van Morrison?" Sheeran told On Air with Ryan Seacrest over the phone on Monday. "I hope that Rihanna is a Van Morrison fan, but as soon as I did that, I was like, 'This sounds like it's going to be a more 'me' song, and that's when we carried it down that route."

"Shape of You" and "Castle on the Hill" are previews of his forthcoming third studio album ÷ (Divide), which he began teasing in mid-December by uploading a solid blue image to his social handles. 

"It's not going to be this month for people who think it's coming out very soon, but it will be out soon," he teased. "I'm going to drop some more songs from it before it comes out."

Although Sheeran has yet to settle on a definite release date, he has already locked down on an album artwork that deviates from the minimalist approach on his previous albums: "I actually painted the album artwork myself. I'd say it's an 'Ed Original.' I just chucked a bunch of paint things at a canvas and it looks pretty weird."

Fans can hold themselves over by purchasing "Shape of You" on iTunes here.

Original article by Marc Inocencio at iHeartRadio