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Album Review: Hozier – Unreal Unearth

2 min read

Out of the early 2010’s folk boom came Hoizer, an artist whose blend of folk and pop lent himself to a wide audience of music lovers. His hit single Take Me To Church became one of the biggest selling songs of 2014, and his self-titled debut garnered huge critical and commercial success. Now, nearly ten years later, his third album Unreal Unearth looks to expand upon what he has done successfully over the last decade.

The double opener of De Selby, parts one and two, provide a juxtaposed beginning. The former is an ominous, slow-burning track scatted with natural samples and reversed instrument hits, ending in a choir verse and a synth build. The latter, one of the album’s singles, rides on a groovy drum line, beds of arpeggiated synths, and funk inspired guitars. First Time is a more by-the-numbers Hozier track, showcasing his signature falsetto in the chorus, as well as his gift for writing a compelling and genuinely heartfelt love song, with love being used in every sense. ‘These days I think I owe my life; To flowers that were left her by my mother; Ain’t that like them? Gifting life to you again’. It’s touching lines like this that remind you of how powerful a lyricist Hozier is.

Brandy Carlile provides the only feature on the album, but hers is a welcome one. The pair sing together on Damage Gets Done, their voices melding wonderfully on the song which has at once an 80s flair, and at another a filmic quality. Its theatrical qualities are continued on the following track Who We Are, Hoizer singing ‘It’s who we are’ at the top of his lungs, mimicking a character from a musical. To Someone From a Warm Climate (Uiscefhuaraithe) is a sparse piano ballad, Hozier’s voice being so present that it engulfs everything else in a reverb-drenched heaven. It’s a gorgeous moment that tugs at the heartstrings. The album culminates in closer First Light, which builds on a waves of backing vocals to an acoustic finale, fitting of such an eclectic album.

Unreal Unearth is an album of many different layers. There are tracks that are more akin to what fans of Hozier’s previous work will come to expect, but there are also more songs influenced by modern production. Synths, sub-bass, and pop structures, all of which add another element to his already honest and epic songwriting. The songs weave in and out sonically at the points they are most wanted, and needed, and as a whole the album becomes an entertaining ride because of it.