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Early March is when fans began celebrating the news that a new Hozier EP was on its way. Talk began shortly after the artist himself discussed the upcoming EP on the podcast “How Long Gone” and teased a snippet of the song “Too Sweet” on the episode.

It didn’t take long for fans to swarm over the snippet of “Too Sweet” as they absolutely loved the chorus. Many began to add their own interpretations of the lyrics, discussed how excited they were for the EP and even speculated what songs may be included on it.

On posts across his social media, Hozier officially announced the tracklist and that he would release the EP March 22. The post also contained the previous snippet of “Too Sweet” while featuring the process of a drawing of a skeleton holding a cup of coffee. He revealed the songs included in this EP were ones that didn’t make the final cut of his most recent album, “Unreal Unearth.”

Unreal Unearth” was an incredibly received album that garnered much love from fans and critics alike. The album’s concept followed the story of Dante’s “Inferno” through the nine circles of Hell, each song representing a different circle along with songs that framed the transition from circle to circle, even the entrance and exit of Hell.

These songs may not have been released with the previous album, but fans are glad they have the four songs now.

“Too Sweet”

As the solely teased snippet of the EP, it’s safe to say “Too Sweet” was one of the most anticipated songs to be released. The song begins with a groovy rhythm and the help of a prominent bass line before heading into a smooth pre-chorus. The chorus of the song keeps its rhythmic origins while also taking the time to expand on its lyrical and vocal portions. It’s when the rest of the percussion and drums kick in that you really feel the song morph into its true form.

The second verse retains the same energy as the first while adding more to the original sentiments of the first verse. The following choruses come in with full force rather than a gradual ease-in like the first one, and that continuation of energy is what makes the song flow and keeps listeners enthralled. The post-second chorus features a section of vocalization while prioritizing the instrumental before ushering us into one final chorus that drives the song’s meaning of pleading and deprecation home.

“Wildflower and Barley”

One of the lighter tracks on the album, “Wildflower and Barley” is such a sweet delight with comforting ambience that can only be described as darling. The song features Allison Russell, a Grammy-award-winning musician, whose voice compliments Hozier’s while also adding to the song just what it needs to create its sweet and soothing nature. Her voice is most prominent in the chorus of the song, and her highlighted sections elevate it, creating the perfect duet.

The song at first features the stylings of an acoustic guitar paired with the sounds of chirping birds to aid in the song’s sense of relaxation. Many of the lyrics feature natural imagery and talk about springtime, a season known best for new beginnings. This is what the song seems to contemplate the most, weighing just how beautiful healing and a fresh start can be.

It’s as the song brings forth its chorus and following verses that more instruments kick in, but the song made a great choice in having such a calming opening. Its simple start really draws you in, soothes you and continues to do so even when the song adds in more complexities.

“Empire Now”

“Empire Now,” from the jump, has a more attention-grabbing and darker sound compared to the previous two tracks of the EP. The song begins with its chorus, and it’s a quiet, commanding presence, but it’s certainly not as intense as the following pre-chorus. Each pre-chorus uses electronic basses and elements in its most crucial moment to create an intense and imposing sound, fitting the song’s themes of empire and ruling.

The song plays with the famous phrase, “The sun never sets on the British Empire,” to draw on the colonial history of Ireland at the hands of England. The lyrics discuss the idea of a rising sun many times, seeming to ask, “Well, what happens when that sun does set and now that it has risen?”

This becomes most apparent in the song’s first and only verse as the lyrics muse on the ideas of revolution and their impacts on the world and the people surrounding them. This section of the song also features the most powerful vocals that really drive home the intensity of the song and its message.

“Fare Well”

The final track, “Fare Well,” opens up with a more down-tempo and somber expression than any other song on the EP. What makes the song stand out is the imagery in its lyrics, discussing situations in which Hozier would not “fare well” because of the situations he has found himself in. Namely, through the imagery of animals caught in situations that gave them comfort or joy but will ultimately be their undoing.

The post-chorus is quite enchanting as it steers the next verse through the threshold. 

The second verse expands on the animal imagery from before, but this is when a shift occurs as a single humanistic comparison is made in the last line. It’s almost as if the speaker of the song has reached a turning point when it comes to how they view themself and their circumstances. The last chorus is just as lively as the previous one, and its optimistic tone is greatly welcomed. Instead of the somber sound it began with, the song closes with a joyous declaration that, no matter what, you’ll be okay in the end.

Overall, the EP, though short, is still worth every minute of its listening time. Each song offers something different than the last that keeps you on your toes with every track. The start of each track creates new anticipation, but also satisfaction with the sound, quality, imagery and message of each one.

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