Hozier’s new EP brings in listeners with sweet hook

Hozier released an EP titled “Unheard” last Friday containing four songs that did not make the final cut for his last album, “Unreal Unearth.” The track list for the EP includes “Too Sweet,” “Wildflower and Barley (feat. Allison Russell),” “Empire Now” and “Fare Well.”

One thing that has always set Hozier apart from other artists is his lyricism and musical influences. He writes lyrics that sound like they belong in hymns. Time after time, I find myself dissecting his lyrics. They’re incredible, and this EP is no exception. He also has strong influences in folk, traditional Irish music, gospel, blues and R&B that can be heard throughout almost all of his music. 

Hozier’s “Unreal Unearth” album is based off of Dante’s “Inferno” and the nine circles of Hell. The album takes listeners to Hell and back. Certain songs were meant to represent certain circles of Hell in terms of the theme. Since this EP consists of songs that were scrapped from this album, they also fall into this narrative.

“Too Sweet” was easily the most anticipated song off of this EP after a snippet of it went viral on TikTok with more than 42,000 posts using the sound.

The chorus specifically went viral, containing the lyrics, “I’d rather take my whiskey neat / My coffee black and my bed at three / You’re too sweet for me.”

Several of my friends who don’t normally listen to Hozier tuned in as soon as this EP was released to listen to “Too Sweet” after loving the snippets they heard. It has brought in new listeners for him.

There have been several posts of people debating the meaning of this song, but the most common interpretation is that he is turning a woman away because she is too good for him, too innocent. This interpretation is supported by the lyrics, “I wish that I could go along / Babe, don’t get me wrong / You know you’re bright as the morning / As soft as the rain / Pretty as a vine / As sweet as a grape / If you can sit in a barrel / Maybe I’ll wait / Until that day.”

He’s saying she’s as sweet as a grape and that she can sit in a barrel—mature into wine—and he might wait, but then it goes into the chorus where it says he’d rather take his whiskey neat instead.

In a video, Hozier released on social media after the release of this EP, he confirms that “Too Sweet” was a contender for the circle of gluttony.

This specific song is my personal favorite from the EP. I was looking forward to it after hearing it on TikTok, and it did not disappoint in the slightest. The chorus is extremely catchy, and the lyrics of the pre-chorus are my favorite part of the song.

“Wildflower and Barley” featuring Grammy-award winner Allison Russell, who will be opening for Hozier on his upcoming 2024 tour, features some phenomenal vocals from the pairing. This song definitely has more of a folk and indie sound than the previous one. It starts with the sounds of birds chirping and acoustic guitar, then moves into a feel-good jazzy chorus. 

This song feels like the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. It feels warm and was confirmed to be limbo, the first circle of Hell.

“Empire Now” has a more intense sound, similar to Hozier’s earlier tracks. One standout part of this song is the falsetto notes. The instrumental is also very intense and adds to the overall aesthetic of the song. There is a more electronic beat featured at several moments in the song. “Empire Now” was in the running for the circle of violence.

“Fare Well” features acoustic instrumentals and a more upbeat tempo accompanied by Hozier’s vocals. His gospel influences are apparent with the harmonies and backing vocals in this song. This song was considered for the ascent out of Hell, lifting the listeners up.

These songs may have been scrapped from the album, but they definitely did not disappoint. Aesthetically, I can understand why some of them did not make the final cut of the album, but as standalone songs in this EP, they are stunning. Once again, another absolutely mesmerizing release from Hozier.


5/5 stars




Featured photo courtesy of @hozier, Instagram