Hozier dodges a sophomore slump with ‘Wasteland, Baby!’

Wasteland, Baby!

Columbia Records · March 1, 2019

Hozier’s second album demonstrates the complexity of his work and continues to deliver the uniqueness that allowed him to rise to fame. 

Andrew Hozier-Byrne, better known simply as Hozier, is an Irish singer-songwriter who gained popularity in 2013 with his hit single “Take me to Church” as well as a successful self-titled debut album. Besides some EP releases, Hozier’s sophomore album Wasteland, Baby! is the first album that he’s released in five years. This album was written (solely by Hozier) and recorded over the course of just one year. Drawing on some similar themes of his self-titled first album, Wasteland, Baby! demonstrates Hozier’s intense feelings about life through his writing and lyrics. The album highlights two distinct styles of Hozier. Some of the songs are soft, with simple melodies and acoustic guitars that show off Hozier’s vocals. The others are immensely powerful and sometimes even haunting with a chorus of voices that emphasize the deep emotion of the songs. Wasteland, Baby! demonstrates the complexity of Hozier’s work and continues to deliver the uniqueness that allowed him to rise to fame.

The feel of this album is very similar to Hozier’s first. His voice brings a unique element to all of his songs with its deep tone and robust range. His instrument of choice on most of these songs is definitely guitar. Many of them contain melodic guitar riffs that are key to getting the feeling of each track across. Lighter songs such as “Almost (Sweet Music),” “Shrike,” “Would That I” and “Wasteland, Baby!” have simple instrumentation that focuses on a more acoustic sounding guitar and puts Hozier’s voice in the spotlight. They bring about a calm and relaxed feeling of simplicity that is sometimes countered with the depth of the lyrics. For example, “Shrike” has a very serene and soothing aspect to it. This is challenged however, with profound lyrics such as “I couldn’t whisper when you needed it shouted / Ah, but I’m singing like a bird, ‘bout it now.” In stark contrast to these tracks, songs such as “Nina Cried Power,” “Movement,” “Talk” and “Sunlight” have much more complex instrumentation with heavy drum beats and a huge layered chorus of voices. The depth and power of these songs match the nature of Hozier’s lyrics. The duality of the album brings about a great juxtaposition of the different moods that Hozier can create.

An area where Hozier really shines compared to other artists is his lyricism. The lyrics of every single song on this album are deep, meaningful and the furthest thing from simple. A recurring theme throughout many of the lyrics seems to be Hozier’s internal struggle and understanding of the many of the aspects of humanity. Whether this be love, life, or anything in between, Hozier’s lyrics take a look at these issues and present a reflective yet optimistic outlook on them. Even the tracks that may appear basic are still brought to a level of complexity because of his lyrics. The final song on the album, “Wasteland, Baby!”, encapsulates his emotions and feelings of all the songs that come before. The lyrics are actually some of the simplest on the album with lines such as “I’m in love with you/and I love too.” Countering this though, the song ends with Hozier whispering “That’s it” conclusively almost to bring together the idea that all of his complex attitudes towards humanity culminate in one simple message; that love is what’s really important and “that’s it.”

Overall, Wasteland, Baby! continues Hozier’s great work with depth and emotion in songs. It demonstrates that he has still got it and can continue to create thought-provoking, powerful melodies and lyrics throughout all of the songs that he writes.

Listen to Wasteland, Baby!:


About Chloe Berger 5 Articles
Chloe Berger is a second year Media and Screen Studies major from New York. She plays the ukulele and loves pasta more than most things.

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