Track Review: Ed Sheeran, ‘Castle on the Hill’
Lovable British pop singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran returns with authentic, narrative-driven gem, “Castle on the Hill.”
Ed Sheeran has established himself as one everybody’s favorite musicians. Face it – the Brit singer/songwriter is cool AF. It’s been two-and-a-half years since X won critics and fans’ hearts alike. Finally, Sheeran returns with two new singles, slated to appear on his forthcoming album, Divide: “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill.” “Castle on the Hill” isn’t as fun as “Shape of You,” but is the better-written song of the two. The record benefits from an anchoring, driving beat.
Of the two new Ed Sheeran songs, “Castle on the Hill” embraces more of the singer-songwriter, pop-rock sound. He does a superb job of capturing a narrative approach on the verses. On the first verse, he sings:
“When I was six years old I broke my leg / I was running from my brother and his friends / and tasted the sweet perfume of the mountain grass I rolled down…”
On the second verse, authenticity continues to benefit Ed:
“Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes / running from the law through the backfields and getting drunk with my friends / Had my first kiss on a Friday night, I don’t reckon that I did it right…”
The chorus is the selling point of “Castle on the Hill,” much like other songs by the British standout. He delivers enthusiastic, energetic vocals on the memorable chorus:
“I’m on my way / Driving at 90 down those country lanes / Singing to ‘Tiny Dancer’ / And I miss the way you make me feel, and it’s real / We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill / Over the castle on the hill / Over the castle on the hill.”
Continuing to solidify the greatness of the song is a remarkable bridge. Like the verse and the refrain, it is exceptionally written:
“One friend left to sell clothes / one works down by the coast / one had two kids but lives alone / one’s brother overdosed… / but these people raised me / and I can’t wait to go home.”
One final bright spot comes towards the end. At the beginning of the final chorus, there is a change of instrumentation to piano, before returning to the guitar-driven, rock-pop sound.
All in all, “Castle on the Hill” is another home run hit single from Sheeran. It is well-produced, authentic, and thoughtful. Its success comes from the electrifying personality of Sheeran himself, not to mention relatable songwriting. 2017 should be a great year for Sheeran.