Powerful vocals drenched in reverb, catchy guitar riffs, echos of a church choir and a soil scattering of biblical imagery - with musical styles ranging from folk, blues, rock and athletic pop. This is what we've come to expect from Irish singer/songwriter, Hozier. A literal journey that continues on the new album ‘Unreal Earth’. A record partly inspired by reading ‘Dante’s Inferno’ during lockdown. So is this album worth the four year wait? To begin with, Andrew Hozier-Bryne invited us to explore his very first self titled debut album, released in 2014 and featuring his breakthrough single - ’Take Me To Church’. From that moment, Hozier made his official ‘claim to fame’. A soft somber folk track that gave us nothing but gothic drama and religious invoking imagery. Filled with anger, meaning, power and political anecdotes. This new release made us feel something that we’ve quite frankly never felt before through music, and as a listener. It made the hairs on the back of our necks stand tall while we listened to the haunting melodies and the gritty guitar strings. The overall recording sound gave us echoes of church surroundings, it was gothically beautiful in every way possible. We were christened by the musical God himself, Hozier. Hozier’s journey continued when he courageously dropped his second album, ’Wasteland, Baby!’, in 2019. A five year anticipated wait for all the Hozier fans. A safe yet unchangeable album that celebrated emotion and the wonder of music. A pop protest album that initially took a left turn; while Hozier’s debut album still took top spot. ‘Nina Cried Power’ explored new depth for the artist, and spoke a musical truth. This particular track featured blues and gospel artist Mavis Staples. It was an empowering track that dropped several activists' names throughout the chorus, including Nina Simone and James Brown. Individuals who fought for something in music. It’s no surprise that the lyrics had meaning but then again, when does Hozier ever drop an album without meaning? ‘Almost’ was the closest attempt for Hozier to re-capture his chart stopping hit ‘Take Me To Church’ with an echoing of soft guitar notes and religious context. By Hozier’s second album we had an incline as to what direction the lyrical God was heading and where he was taking us as a listener. From the church, to the graveyard and through the depth of the natural and biblical forms of his music.
Now the time has come for Hozier to release his third album, ‘Unreal Earth’. While Hozier primarily draws from literal themes there’s no surprise that this continues throughout the new album. The two already released tracks ‘Francesca’ and ‘Eat Your Young’ highlight one of the seven biblical vices; LUST. Hozier's track ‘Francesca’ is primarily based upon ‘Dante’s Inferno’. Francesca and her lover Paolo meet Dante and Virgil in the second circle of Hell reserved only for the lustful. The couple encounter violent storms in a way they allow themselves to be swept away by their passions. As the story continues Francesca blames love as the agent of her sin. Hozier mirrors the interpretation of the story with his ‘calm before the storm’ version of the ‘Francesca’. Exploring hope, desperation, emotion and pure solidarity, this song is filled with every kind of emotion when trying to rekindle a past relationship between two people. Within the chorus there’s also a sense of hopelessness and regret. The amped up guitar riffs and soulful vocals allow us to explore the story through Hozier’s words and music. A very interesting yet beautiful track that somehow makes us want to continuously listen to it over and over again. Music is a form of addiction and Hozier proves this in ‘Francesca’. ‘Damage Gets Done’ features the Amercian singer, author and activist Brandi Carlile. As you can tell the theme continues within Hozier’s work and we’re totally here for it. Hozier’s previous and current album artworks tell a story before you’ve even attempted to listen to the track or the album. This is an album that’s definitely going to be worth a listen.
Unreal Earth is released on 18th August and is available to preorder now.