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Friday, June 21, 2024
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Review: Hozier’s new EP ‘Unheard’

Taking inspiration from Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ Hozier covers several tiers of hell

<p>Hozier's latest project "Unheard" tackles themes of hell.</p>

Hozier's latest project "Unheard" tackles themes of hell.

Following the release of his third studio album “Unreal Unearth,” a concept album based on Dante’s journey through the circles of hell in the “Inferno,” Irish singer-songwriter Hozier’s surprise EP “Unheard” is an amazing follow up. 

In the EP, the track, “Too Sweet,” symbolizes the circle of gluttony, “Wildflower and Barley” limbo, “Empire Now” violence and “Fare Well” the ascent out of hell. Following the chaotic pandemic, Hozier sought to embody his feelings using inspiration from Dante’s “Inferno.” 

“I didn’t want to write songs that were about a lockdown; I didn’t want to write songs that were about the pandemic,” Hozier explained in a 2023 interview with Grammy.com. “But I did want to explore — or at least acknowledge, even as a nod structurally — this feeling of going into something, these new circumstances and experiences in that time and coming out the other side of it.” 

The album loosely follows the nine circles of hell in “Inferno”: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud and treachery while also covering themes of love and heartbreak following an alleged break-up.

“Too Sweet” re-imagines gluttony in a modern light. The narrator, who desires to live a free-spirited life, sleeps late and drinks whiskey. Their partner, who wakes up at sunrise, represents societal norms and expectations. 

“Too Sweet” is my personal favorite off the EP because of its lighthearted and easygoing vibe. While I do love Hozier’s generally bittersweet, melancholic themes, it’s nice to have something a bit different every now and then. 

“Wildflower and Barley” illustrates life during the pandemic. Growth, renewal and the interconnectedness of life and death are discussed as Hozier and Grammy winner Allison Russel converse over the eerie silence of the countryside and the city during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

“Empire Now” is a message of hope and a brighter tomorrow. Hozier, talks of a dream, “one hundred years from the empire now, sun comin’ up on a world that’s easy now.” The song may have an underlying political message marking a hundred years of Irish independence from Great Britain in 1921. 

“Fare Well” is Hozier’s typical slow-paced, melodramatic anticipation of good times to come. The ascent out of hell is showcased by the narrator’s desire to “feel good again” and “taking any high — any solitary pleasure.” 

Hozier’s three studio albums are spaced several years apart with “Hozier” (2014), “Wasteland, Baby!” (2019) and “Unreal Unearth” (2023) all being at least four years apart. But with two releases in a little under a year, Hozier fans can remain hopeful for more music to come very soon. 


The arts desk can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com 


FERDINAND BABIANO

Ferdinand Babiano is a contributing writer. 

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