Entertainment Music

“Unreal Unearth: Unheard”: Hozier’s releases new EP

Mar. 22 welcomed the surprise release of Hozier’s newest EP “Unheard,” featuring tracks that missed the last August release of his third studio album, “Unreal Unearth.” The original LP is structured according to Dante’s “Inferno,” as the Irish singer-songwriter allocates songs to corresponding circles of hell.
While teasing new music on his social media earlier this month, Hozier claimed massive attention across social media platforms –specifically, on TikTok for the EP’s opening track “Too Sweet.”

Hozier tells fans on Instagram that “Too Sweet” was initially considered for the circle of gluttony, which was replaced by the LP’s “Eat Your Young.” Both tracks have similar themes of craving more than you are being given, a lesson Hozier learns specifically in romantic relationships. Confronted with a partner that doesn’t align with his traditional lifestyle choices, Hozier questions why someone wouldn’t want to “wake up, dark as a lake, smelling like a bonfire, and lost in a haze.” He recognizes that not every partner’s loves and passions will align with his, distancing himself from a partnership that doesn’t serve him and upholding his penchant for mundane bitterness: “I’ll take my whiskey neat, my coffee black in my bed at three.”

This apparent romantic dissonance is a theme traced through the original album in nearly all of Dante’s nine circles, specifically the circle of violence. “Empire Now” captures this paradigm as succinctly as the original choices for the circle: “Butchered Tongue” and “To Someone from a Warm Climate.” Riddled with a triumphant, rhythmic beat that resembles a movie-like battle call, “Empire Now” delivers a universal message: believing that the natural inclination for humans is violence, conquest, and building empires.

Like “Butchered Tongue,” Hozier reveals the love he has for his Irish ancestry in this new track. Despite parting ways with an atmosphere of familiarity and experiencing the gradual dissolution of Irish dialects that he once knew, Hozier is confident in his ability to increase awareness of shielded narratives. Ireland gained its independence only 102 years ago from Great Britain but continues to face transgressions that distract from a united Ireland. Hozier captures this cyclical battle in the constant repetition of the sun rising. Just like the constant rising of the sun, Hozier thinks the nature of human conflict is cyclical and ongoing.

“Wildflower and Barley” touches on themes of isolation and stillness, feelings that consumed the Spring of 2020— a period marked by global lockdowns and emptiness—when Hozier wrote the track. The song opens with the melodic chirping of birds, setting a serene yet haunting tone as it paints a picture of a countryside devoid of life. Hozier captures the essence of a dormant season, typically associated with renewal and growth but not stripped of its usual vitality: “Springtime from my window, another month has not much longer now, the sun hesitates more on each evening’s darkening.”

Collaborating with Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Russell, whose recent album garnered four Grammy nominations, adds depth to the song’s narrative. The two join together in the song’s chorus, intertwining harmonious vocals to express the Earth’s muted capacity to create anew. Both the countryside and the city reflect a paused existence, where time is suspended, rhythms of life disrupted, and individuals are left to ponder.

The EP’s closer “Fare Well” touches on Hozier’s ironic inability to bid farewell to a situation that has set him off course. Intertwining examples throughout, Hozier explains the temporary euphoria of something that distracts from its potential consequences such as a “kitten cozy in an engine” or a “dog deep into the chocolate.” Hozier expresses a desire for any form of temporary relief, whether it be through intoxication, pleasurable experiences, or moments of solitude that mask underlying sorrows: “I’ll take any high / Any glazin’ of the eyes / Any solitary pleasure that was sorrow in disguise.” While the specific adversities

Hozier faces are not explicitly mentioned, the song’s essence lies in the struggle to confront and overcome personal challenges. It reflects a common human tendency to seek solace in fleeting pleasures. Mirroring a limbo-like state and not experiencing the full consequences of true hardship, Hozier is aware and accepts his immersion into this circle, balancing escapism and self-awareness on a continuous pendulum.

The album art of “Unheard” is grounded in earthiness, featuring the singer lying with his eyes closed in a patch of dirt. With the songs’ and original album’s allusions to hell, the art seems to be fitting. However, it can also be seen as a chance for rebirth. Hozier directly invites listeners through a journey of self-discovery, encouraging others to bask in life’s meaningful moments and seize the opportunity for new beginnings.