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The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

Hozier’s ‘Unheard:’ Too Short, Very Sweet

Photo from Apple Music.
Photo from Apple Music.

Hozier has invented a genre of music unable to be described in simple terms, but if I had to try, I would label it as alternative indie pop folk that one would listen to while mourning in the woods, experiencing heartbreak, or falling in love for the first time – and he does this strange combination JUSTICE. 

Hozier released his EP Unheard on March 22, containing four previously unreleased songs that did not make it to the final track listing for his third studio album Unreal Unearth. This EP combines inspiration from Dante’s Inferno and Hozier’s own experience with the COVID-19 experience beautifully. 

Hozier balances a delicate thread between beautiful descriptive imagery while still leaving his songs up to various interpretations. I cannot even begin to list the number of times I’ve seen people debating the meaning behind his lyrics, which, to me, is the mark of a good songwriter.

The composition of his songs is intricate and meaningful so I could go on and on, but I’ll just include some of my favorites in this EP. In Too Sweet, bells could be heard in the back, which initially could be misconstrued for wedding bells – an ironic and hilarious choice for that particular melody since it is usually interpreted as a break-up song. 

But, the ringing bells are actually a death knell, which rang at different intervals to signify the age or gender of the person who passed away. To me, this tiny detail in the background could be interpreted as Hozier signifying the death of the possibility of their relationship rekindling.

And don’t even get me started on Too Sweet. I listened to this song literally 200 times the week it was released – it was constantly on repeat. I love the beat, the lyrics, the instrumentals – I love everything about this song. The imagery? These lines: “You’re bright as the morning / as soft as the rain / pretty as a vine / as sweet as a grape / if you could sit in a barrel / maybe I’d wait,” are so good they should be a crime. 

And his vocals are, as usual, astounding. When he sings “You treat your mouth as if it’s Heaven’s Gate,”  and his voice switches into the deeper range, I actually get chills. Every time. His range, from his actual vocal cords to the type of music he writes, is beyond impressive. 

Oh, but Hozier is no one-trick pony. In addition to Too Sweet, the break-up song that immediately took off and hit #1 on the Hot Rock and Alternative Charts, the EP also included Empire Now – basically a critique on British colonialism, specifically in Ireland. Wow. That is what I call range. 

In the same song, some of his lyrics could be interpreted as a commentary on climate change, writing, “After all, darlin’, I wouldn’t sell the world / For all the gold or sterling / If it falls, I would / hold on for all its worth  / The future’s so bright it’s burnin’.” 

One of my favorite things about his discography is the variety of themes and genres he is able to cover, and now, he can tick one more political commentary off his checklist. In Empire Now, his vocals are so pure and raw, and I love the parts of the song where there’s little instrumental background, where you can really hear the raw vibrato and grit he was blessed with in his vocal cords. 

Wildflower and Barley is a soft, beautiful ballad, a genre that Hozier excels in. This track features Allison Russell, whose voice blends so seamlessly with Hozier’s that it sounds like they were born to sing together. Like his other songs, the flow, instrumental, and lyrics all seem to work so well together – and should not be possible to make the lyric, “useful as dirt,” sound so enchanting. 

So, in summary, I am captivated by Hozier, but I expected no less. Give Unheard a listen – you will not regret it.

Favorite Tracks: Too Sweet, Wildflower and Barley 

Least Favorite: Fare Well

Rating: 9/10

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    fatiiiiiimah :)Apr 26, 2024 at 2:17 pm

    liz, you are now OBLIGATED to write hozier reviews bc this was rlly good 🙂