When I was eighteen and fresh out of high school, I moved by myself from Canada to England. I lived there as an au pair, a kind of live-in nanny, looking after a family’s children. And while it was lovely to become a part of a family in another country, a country that I had loved upon first arriving, there were times that I felt a disconnect — caused by homesickness — with the UK. It was Ed Sheeran that got me those times. Ed Sheeran drew me into my new home, making me feel me feel a part of England more than fish and chips or afternoon tea ever could. It was in my first year in the UK that Sheeran’s + came out, and songs like “The A Team” and “Lego House” were everywhere. I got to join in on the hype of a great new British artist before his popularity expanded to North America.
When I heard that Sheeran had a new single out, I was very excited. I couldn’t wait to hear the familiar hip-hop dipped acoustic sounds of the artist who made England feel like my second home. “Castle on the Hill” did not disappoint. The upbeat, grand guitars reminded me of the times I explored every nook of the ancient university city, alone but happy, headphones in, driven by the music. The lyrics are the perfect mix of nostalgic and gritty, a reminiscing on the good and bad of growing up.
“Castle on the Hill” represents a new time in my life, a time in which I can look back at the experience I gained living abroad, charging into adulthood with only a few missteps on the way. “I was younger then / Take me back to when,” croons Sheeran, perfectly encapsulating that feeling of wanting to go back to a wonderful time, but knowing that you knew nothing at all back then.