Singer/songwriter/producer Hozier has just released his sophomore studio album, Wasteland, Baby!, the follow-up to his 2014 self-titled album. On this album, Hozier tackles themes of hope, love and despair, and does so with immense grace and power.
Hozier’s vocals on this album are near perfection when it comes to translating the emotional depth that his lyrics display. He shows off every nook and cranny of his voice, going between sweet and soft low tones, to heavy belts and cries, to mountainous highs. Hozier truly bares his soul, vocally, and lets the listener have a close look at it all.
The production on this album, too, is top-notch. Hozier’s clear funk and soul inspiration comes through in many of the tracks with the usage of burly piano chords, grooving bass lines, angelic choral backings and infectious stomping and clapping; not to mention a fierce Mavis Staples feature on opener “Nina Cried Power.” Nevertheless, Hozier seamlessly incorporates his Irish roots into several tracks, giving nods to rich and jubilant emotions. In addition, he throws in his own alternative styling with hard, yet sophisticated, percussion and impassioned acoustic riffs. The album’s production is a far cry from bland.
The lyrical themes throughout Wasteland, Baby! are well-thought-out and polished. The tracks take listeners on a swelling journey with crests and dips as Hozier attempts to find his thoughts on love, the current political climate and the gloom that it creates, and hope. He uses the theme of a fluctuating relationship and ascribes the emotions that come with that to the world at large.
At times, it feels like Hozier wants to give up and become cynical of the world around him, but there is always something in the back of his head that tells him to not lose faith in love. In the end, he acknowledges the crumbling world around him but decides to love it nonetheless, stating that this wasteland is “Not an end, but the start of all things that are left to do.” Wasteland, Baby! is truly a triumph.