Large background screen at a Hozier concert showing him performing his songs
Credit: Jayden Doty, 42Fifty

Andrew Hozier-Byrne, better known as Hozier, released his highly anticipated third studio album called “Unreal, Unearthon Aug. 18, 2023, four years after his last album. 

Since the album came out, Hozier has made it abundantly clear that Unreal, Unearth was written with the inspiration of the 14th-century story of “The Divine Comedy, Inferno” as written by Dante Alighieri. This famous work proves to be an excellent choice to mirror the universal emotions people feel by giving them a lens to relate the music to themself. 

Despite not wanting to focus specifically on the lockdown, Hozier used his experiences and framework of “The Divine Comedy, Inferno to produce an artistic portrayal of both timelessly universal emotions and those felt during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This choice was an exceptional one, which gave his newer songs even more of a connection to his listeners. 

Overall, the songwriting on the album is extremely impressive. Between the use of the Irish language, allusions to Dante’s poems, as well as other aspects of mythology and folklore, Hozier created an impactful album. 

The structure, albeit interesting, adds to the emotions of those wanting to dive deeper. It is not distracting from the actual content of the music and treads the line between telling a specific story and impressively developing relatability. 

“It’s great because after I listen to the songs I can go back and do more research on all the folklore in it so I can know what they mean and relate them to what they mean to me,” OHS junior Nola Quinn said. 

In addition to the unique structure, Hozier also decided to include the Irish language in his lyrics so he could include ideas lost in translation in his songs. Including tracks like “De Selby Part 1” and “To Someone From A Warm Climate (Uiscefhuaraithe)” he expertly uses the language to provoke feelings and ideas people experience, but cannot be described in such a widespread language. 

A point of contention about this album is the stylistic differences between this new work and Hozier’s prior music. In the past, he has mainly approached his music either with a cozy folk-like or more dark rock feeling. However, this new album has some additions that provide a more pop-centric approach than previously taken. 

While songs like “I, Carrion”, and “Unknown (Nth)” are a few that follow his normal style, others like “Damage Gets Done” and “First Time” are some that take on a much more pop-like sound. It took a bit of time for me to see past the change in style, but the songs on the album that follow the pop style are still lyrically impressive. 

Stand-outs of the album include many of the singles on the tracklist, including “Francessca”, “Eat Your Young”, and “De Selby Part 2”. Other notable songs include “Unknown (Nth)”, “I, Carrion”, and “First Light”, although the others are just as enjoyable. 

Regardless of prior knowledge about the album or stylistic differences, the songs are just as meaningful as before. Even at the surface level, Hozier is dealing with themes of love, loss, and change, things everyone can relate to, in a manner that is thoroughly impressive and enjoyable. 

“He puts a lot of thought into the people he’s singing to, and a lot of people can relate to that because of how they feel in their relationships,” Quinn said. 

Even if there are some songs I do not enjoy, or others I still need time to warm up to, this is truly an artistically sound and expressive album that conquered Hozier’s goal of universal resonance. Hopefully, this is another step in a long line of music that tells stories and portrays experiences like no other.

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