The student news site of Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

The Independent

The student news site of Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

The Independent

The student news site of Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

The Independent

The 2024 Art Show Poster
The Diverse Artistry of Glenbard
Maggie Falkenberg, School News Writer • February 8, 2024

This year, Glenbard South took its turn hosting the annual District 87 Art Show. Students walked past a multitude of different colors, styles and scenes in the commons hallway,...

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Unreal Unearth: Journey Through Darkness

Hozier+at+the+Huntington+Bank+Pavilion+in+Chicago+
Liza B
Hozier at the Huntington Bank Pavilion in Chicago

Born in Bray, Ireland, Hozier began his singing career at 23 with his 2013 debut hit single, “Take Me to Church”, which propelled him into international fame. While he is still widely known for “Take Me To Church” now, Hozier is much more than just a one hit wonder. Drawing on folk, soul, blues and gospel influences, Hozier creates a mesmerizing and unique sound. Through stunning lyrics and songwriting, he has proven himself to be an incredibly talented and noteworthy creator. Released on August 18 of this year, Unreal Unearth is Hozier’s third major album, and has kicked off his latest tour. 

 

The newest of his three albums, Unreal Unearth shares many themes with Hozier’s previous works, like devotion and love, religion and, majorly, a focus on nature. However, heightened emphasis on symbolism, heavy use of literary references and a deeper devotion to storytelling sets it apart from his other records. Unreal Unearth is also arguably darker and sadder than his other two albums, drawing on themes of loss and endings, darkness, death and tragedy. 

 

The album was partially inspired by Dante’s Inferno and the isolating pandemic experience. Dante’s Inferno is reminiscent of the recent pandemic years, and the two can be compared as journeys of growth and self-discovery. While the album is not specifically modeled to relate to the pandemic, Hozier said, “But I did want to explore…this feeling of going into something…and coming out the other side of it.” Aside from themes of journey, Hozier takes inspiration from Dante in that several of his songs play with different concepts of sins or take place in different circles of hell until the album concludes with the protagonist coming into the light for the first time, signaling the end of the journey and a re-entering of some sort, whether that be through reinvention, rebirth or a new perspective. 

 

The album pulls from various mythological and Greek influences, such as the myth of Icarus in “I, Carrion (Icarian).” The song contains clever word play, like the singer feeling weightless, soaring, the idea of being carried or even the threat of falling. “Son of Nyx” is almost entirely instrumental, but the title is reminiscent of  Greek fables, featuring the goddess of night, Nyx. This is a nod to the prevalent theme of darkness in the album, especially following “Who We Are” in the album, which explicitly references the theme of being born at night. 

 

One of the rawest songs on the album (and my personal favorite), “Abstract (Psychopomp)” compares the image of a psychopomp, a figure taken from Greek mythology who guides souls to their final resting place, in tandem with the painful memory of seeing a dying animal in the road. The singer describes the scene in an abstract sense through phrases like “streetlights in the dark blue” or “the earth from a distance.” He sings, “the speed that you moved/the screech of the cars” as he watches someone run through traffic to save a creature dying in the road, acting like a guide, leading the animal to its final resting place, to die on the side of the road instead. As the song reaches an end, Hozier describes the way life carries on despite the heartbreaking moment he witnesses. As the person he is with cries over the creature, dead in their arms, the singer describes “weeds up through the concrete/traffic picking up speed” as the day progresses, uncaring. The song features beautiful vocals and instrumentals that never fail to make me cry, and the final few lines will always stay with me. 

 

The album also references famous literature, with so much of it being inspired from classic literary works such as Dante’s Inferno. “Francesca” pulls a pair of lovers from Dante’s Inferno and rewrites their stories. The song is told from the perspective of her lover, supposedly in the afterlife since both were sentenced to die after their affair was discovered. Instead of portraying their love as a tragedy, Hozier flips the narrative. The song reimagines that it was no punishment to spend an eternity with the one you loved, even in hell. Hozier frames this devotion as one deeper than religion, and that if heaven chose to cast them out for love, heaven itself was flawed. The singer, Francesca’s lover, frames heaven as “not fit to house a love like you and I”, and repeats the theme of choosing her, over and over again if he could. 

 

Throughout the album and among individual story lines or lessons, there is an overarching theme of a journey and life spent in darkness. This is introduced in the very first song, “De Selby (Part 1),” which begins the album and immediately presents this image of a great darkness. This theme is then continued in “De Selby (Part 2)”, but with more subtle references, such as lyrics like “and your heart, love, has such darkness” and “when you fall on me like night.” “Who We Are” focuses on a theme of being born at night and inheriting darkness. This is followed up by the instrumental “Son of Nyx,” which references the goddess of night, another nod to the theme of darkness. The entire album creates an image of a world where darkness is prevalent and all-encompassing, which is, in turn, beautifully concluded with the song, “First Light.” Here, the singer emerges into the light after living a life in darkness, witnessing the sky burst into colors and life at sunrise, pondering on the light they have lost and new beginnings in sight. 

 

Unreal Unearth is a breathtaking album, not only for its clever storytelling and lyricism or complex references, but also for its emotional depth and the impact it has on the listener. Each song is beautiful, with undoubtedly stunning vocals and melodies, and like Hozier’s other work, is life-changing. Only an hour and two minutes from start to finish, Unreal Unearth is one of the best albums of the year, and is well worth the listen. 



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About the Contributor
Liza Boguslavsky, Scoop Section Editor
Hi! My name is Liza Boguslavsky, I am a Junior, and this year I am the Scoop section editor! I participate in artistic roller skating, and in my free time I love reading, writing poetry, and listening to Hozier.  

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