Why You Need to Listen to Hozier’s New Album Right Now

10:17 AM

Hozier is one white male artist you do not need to separate from his art or ignore due to problematic receipts, a rarity nowadays. 

By politics editor, Cameron Price

Wasteland, Baby! was released on March 1st and it is Hozier’s first album in four years

Hozier’s music has subtle influence from Black musicians of the Jazz Age, but he is one of the few white artists who is not thankless. Hozier time and time again mentions how inspired he is by Black artists in his songs-- including but not limited to Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, and Louis Armstrong. In interviews, he gives even more shoutouts: “My first introduction to music [was] Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf… I just fell in love with the music coming out of Black America. There is absolutely no rock and roll without blues music. There is no blues music without one of the most horrendous atrocities of human trafficking in the last few centuries...Everything that’s popular music swings off the work and the achievements and the legacy of Black artistry.” 

(In case you were educated in the South and your education conveniently left out the oppression of Black people, the case of human trafficking he is referring to is white Americans enslaving Africans and then making them build up most of what is the South and modern America in general.) 

His lyrics never stray from dark metaphor, reminiscent of Irish folklore. Hozier is one of the few straight men who gets it. Hozier talks about women the way we should be talked about (i.e. comparing his love to a sharp spike in Shrike while declaring himself a bird that impales its prey on said spike, or saying he wants to be with her during the apocalypse in No Plan). Hozier is always on the same wavelength as sapphics and it is why he has a lesbian cult following.

In multiple interviews, Hozier has stated that his album contains influences from our current state of politics. For me, his music is a way to destress over everything wrong going on right now, all while staying socially and politically aware. It’s soft folk, but it doesn’t lose its edge by acting like the world is perfect.

Hozier’s songs are all equally gorgeous in composition and sound. This album is seemingly less somber than his debut, but many of the upbeat tunes have lyrics that are much the opposite of their sound. 

My favorite song so far is Would That I. It begins with the lyrics: 

   True that I saw her hair like the branch of a tree

   Willow dancin' on air before covering me

   Under garden and calicos

   Over canopy dabbled long ago.

The song and descriptors he uses to talk about the woman that is the subject of the song is yet another example of why lesbians claim him as our own. They declare her beauty without being demeaning, cliché, or simple. It is a soft song reminiscent of falling in love for the first time. It gives me a warm feeling inside when I listen to it, portraying how gorgeous loving a woman actually is, unlike so many sexualized songs about women by many other straight male artists. The verses are quiet but the chorus gets notably louder, much like the ups and downs relationships have. 

The song Wasteland, Baby!, much like the album itself, was completely different than I expected. It was soft and full of light, a complete opposite of the dark tune I assumed came with the name. Hearing the song made me slightly emotional as Hozier understands how to portray what it feels like to fall in love with a woman. It can be hard but, at the same time, so pure and so sweet. He conveys how warm loving can be. 

It starts with the verse:

   All the fear and the fire

   At the end of the world 

   Happens each time 

   A boy falls in love with a girl 

   Happens grace 

   Happens sweet 

   Happily, I'm unfazed here, too 

   Wasteland, baby 

   I'm in love with you

The lyrics are accompanied by few instruments but the one that stands out the most is the acoustic guitar. It adds so much sweetness to his words as it is played with higher and happier sounding chords. It has all the warmth of when you lay eyes on your first crush, the tenderness of the butterflies you get in your stomach around her, and the comfort you get when you hold her hand for the first time. It is a sharp contrast from his many somber tunes. It ends with the line Wasteland, Baby. I’m in love with you,  and fades out with just the guitar playing.

All in all, I prefer this album to his first one. Wasteland, Baby! is filled with so much more hopefulness and nods to deep love. While many songs on his first album were sweet and soft, the ratio to those and darker tracks was slightly skewed toward the latter. Wasteland, Baby! takes the listener on a journey through love, loss, and life-- a journey worth taking. Hozier does not disappoint after his four-year wait.

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