by: Elizabeth Alexander
Mainly known by his hit “Take Me to Church”, Andrew Hozier-Byrne has returned from church to once again hit the charts with his latest album Wasteland, Baby! This alternative album consisting of 14 songs will hit your soul with its R&B inspired tune, turning his booming and effervescent voice into an album you’re likely to remember.
The first song starting off the track, “Nina Cried Power”, mentions artists such as Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Billie Holliday, James Brown, and Mavis Staples who also takes part in this song. It celebrates his love of music, especially crediting the black artists Hozier takes inspiration from. “And I could cry power / Power has been cried by those stronger than me / Straight into the face that tells you to / Rattle your chains if you love being free.” His nod to civil rights acknowledges the struggles of people that are often taken for granted today.
“Movement”, really does make you dance like a willow tree. The light and airy melody encouraging dancing is one of the more “love” song on Hozier’s album, referencing well-known figures such as the Hebrew prophet Jonah and the legend Atlas from Greek mythology. Inspired by a ballet performance done to “Take Me to Church”, this song makes you feel as if you have all the dance skills in the world.
“Shrike”', based more off Irish folk music, transports me to the countryside in Ireland, sitting at the edge of a cliff and looking out into the ocean, the cool breeze keeping me company. (Disclaimer: I have never been to Ireland). Shrikes, small birds often symbolize retribution, the animals impaling insects on thorns as a way to eat/kill them. “And I was transformed / But your grounded and giving / And darkening scorn / Remember me, love when I’m reborn / As the shrike to your sharp and glorious thorn”
“Dinner & Diatribes” sets the scene of a high-class, stuck up social event in which Andrew Hozier-Byrne desperately wants out of this “cultural wasteland”. (p.s. distribes means “a forceful and bitter verbal attack against something or someone.” I hope I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know that word!) This song gives you the confidence to walk out of this imaginary event, and go rock out in the car. He expresses his relief at the end when finally leaving, “Now that the evening is slowing / Now that the end’s in sight / Honey, it’s easier knowing.”
Probably my least favorite song, “To Noise Making (Sing)”, is not bad by any means, but simply gets a bit too repetitive. However, the message behind it just might make up for it. “You don’t have to sing it nice, but honey sing it strong / At best, you find a little remedy, at worst the world will sing along.” The act of just letting go through singing, no matter your talent, is certainly therapeutic in its own way. “Who could ask to be unbroken or be brave again? / Or honey hope even on this side of the grave again? / And who could ask it to be sound or to feel saved again? / Or stick around until you hear that music play again.”
Overall, Hoziers’ Wasteland, Baby! is sure to take you back to your (likely imaginary) Irish roots, through a healthy mix of folk, alternative, and R&B inspired melodies. If you’re looking for a slightly somber, yet empowering album to jam out to, give this 6’5 mysterious Irish man a chance.