Hozier Releases “Wasteland, Baby!”
01 March 2019 | By Hannah Mussey
With the recent release of his highly-anticipated second album, Wicklow-born Hozier is on every fan’s radar right now. The lead up to Wasteland, Baby! has included a successful EP, as well as singles like “Nina Cried Power” and “Movement,” which fans have received with gusto.
This second album comes a healthy four-and-a-half years after the meteoric rise of his eponymous debut album. Released in 2014, the leading single “Take Me to Church” grew quickly in popularity and even racked up a nomination for Song of the Year at Grammys.
After a long global tour, the artist “took a deliberate 6-12 months of living in the countryside in a small bungalow in Wicklow” to recharge.
The time off was much needed, of course. The quiet-natured, humble Bray native once said he feels more like a “gangly introvert” than an international music icon. It explains why he strayed from a recent trend in the music world, with artists seeming to crank out several albums within a few years.
"I didn’t see the point in [it],” he told RTÉ. “I just wanted to spend time and make sure I was happy with the work and make sure the work was worth writing and worth doing, as opposed to getting into writers rooms or anything like that.”
While the long wait has left fans impatient, the agreement so far is that it has been worthwhile. The teasers from Wasteland, Baby! are a step forward for the artist, whose previous work earmarked him in the “bluesy and folksy” category, with a more eclectic sound and overall theme. Album one had a powerful focus on love, death, and sexuality, carried forth by poetic lyrics and haunting melodies. “Take Me to Church” is a clear and rancorous protest against restrictive religions, “In A Week,” is the love story of two decomposing corpses, and “From Eden,” blends a bit of everything. It’s a powerful, polished album that feels like it will age gracefully.
So when “Nina Cried Power” dropped in September of last year, fans were not disappointed to see that the artist retained the same soulful sound while packing a powerful, political punch. According to Hozier-Byrne, “Nina Cried Power,” featuring Mavis Staples, is an homage to all of the artists who have used their music to inspire societal change. Indeed, the world has changed a lot since 2014, and the new works feel relevant. And important.
"Some of the stuff,” he says, “maybe will give a signal boost go to a rally or march or sing a song or whatever, I’m not in the trenches, I’m not living that in the same way people who really dedicate their lives to it are, but I still think it’s a very small thing to contribute and that solidarity really costs you nothing.”
The supposed small contribution made a big splash, topping Billboard’s Adult Alternative Song chart for two weeks and racking up an impressive amount of Spotify streams.
The rest of the album, he says, will continue to deal with love in the face of strife, change, and even doomsday.
"I think this record, there’s a lot of love songs. I find I would write songs about other things, albeit through the lens of a love song, or through the surface that's wrapped up in a love song, but I dunno, some of the songs for me are characterised as a farewell to things, or a worry or a concern of bad and terrible things to come," Hozier said.
So far, we can tell that the tracks beg to be played live and brought to the stage by his signature hootenanny-style band. Luckily, the rest of 2019 will see the artist on an extended tour of North America and the UK, including five nights at the London Palladium in early October. You can–and should–buy tickets now, as several shows are already sold out.
When asked how he felt about putting out a second album after the massive success of his first, the 28-year-old put it in a characteristically worldly yet humble way: “I think Orson Welles said about filmmaking, 'films aren’t finished, they’re just abandoned.' And I think that’s to be said about songs too, you can keep tinkering forever and you do eventually just have to say look it’s done, it’s as close to done as it’s going to be. So that is a hard one, a lesson to learn, knowing when to quit.”
Wasteland, Baby! hit the shelves on the 1st of March.