Hozier Showcases Brilliance on New EP ‘Unheard’ (EP Review)

Hozier is having a very successful moment. Although, he has never really disappeared from the foreground, keeping a solid release schedule and headlining sold-out shows worldwide. After releasing the critically ‘hmm’d’ ‘Unreal Unearth‘, we are now treated to ‘Unheard‘. This is a selection of songs that didn’t quite make it into the final album. Considering the story structure and themes of the LP, these were songs that didn’t fit into the ‘Dante’s Inferno‘ aesthetic within the project. 

The release begins with the groove-centric ‘Too Sweet’. It has a more pop-like production with a strong guitar lead alongside an electric drumset in the background. However, Hozier keeps some parts of his signature production style with the gentle choral sections and church bells in the background that boost the whole mix into a very catchy and fun pop song. Of course, the vocals are on point, with his voice being one of his strongest assets. This is so much so that his vocalizing is just the bridge of the song. It’s simple and it works.  

Also to note, that song debuted at number 2 on the Spotify U.S. chart, making it one of his most successful songs since his debut. 

The second song on the EP, ‘Wildflower and Barly’, is a ballad where Hozier brings in the talented Canadian Singer-Songwriter Allison Russell. Slower and more traditional in its style, Russell’s soft vocals sculpt a romantic vision of springtime but still with a bit of death imagery (this is a Hozier song, it must have a body count of at least two). This also drops the album title, “I feel as useful as dirt, unreal unearth.”. He plays the part of Persephone in a season of rebirth. To unearth; digging up himself, much like the smiling teeth that adorn his album cover. 

Dirt is both worth nothing and worth everything. Life relies on dirt, yet to be unearthed shows this is a song of new love and regrowth. One way to interpret it (god, you can interpret Hozier songs, it’s just nice) is this is a post-Covid song. The spring is when lockdown started, and now we are going into a new spring where the world has sort of exhaled from the pandemic. 

On the subject of the importance of dirt, the next song is ‘Empire Now’. It is a song about the death of the future centered on the British Empire, which the Irishman has much to say on. These are for the historical reasons of the British invading, starving, and treating the Irish as second-class citizens until recent history. “The future’s so bright it’s burnin’,” he sings over a twisting guitar that sounds quite wild west. The huge slams and claps make it sound a little bit like an Imagine Dragons song. This is the apocalypse song on the macro level, rather than the micro level that ‘Wasteland, Baby!‘ was. 

To finish off, we go back to some death imagery with ‘Fare Well’. Here, our singer-songwriter wrestles with clumsy imagery of cats in engines and chocolate-eating dogs. Hozier wishes to find peace in escape and death. Freud would have a field day with this song, and it rounds out the EP well. 

With every EP, there is always a trove of just one or two secret bangers. On ‘Nina Cried Power it was ‘Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)‘, and ‘Through Me (The Flood) on ‘Eat Your YoungHowever, this project feels like an epilogue to the saga that was ‘Unreal UnearthIt’s a final nod to the camera to tie up the themes so present on the album. The incredibly pop-esque production of ‘Too Sweet‘ makes it an instant hit, and every day I spend writing this it only climbs further up the chart. We may be looking at Hozier’s most popular song since ‘Take Me To Church‘. 

Rating: 7/10

Hozier is on Instagram, X, and TikTok. You can stream the album below and read more reviews here.

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