Hozier released his third album, “Unreal Unearth,” on Aug. 18. The artist is best known for his heavy prose and alternative folk sound, and he maintains these aspects throughout all three of his albums, each with songs on love, culture, society, and the world’s pitfalls. But something about his new album is different from the rest.

Hozier’s music has created this indescribable feeling of forests, cottages, castles, and rivers, a feeling that he relies on in his third studio album. He builds mountains with words, digs his fingers into the dirt, and pulls out this beautifully composed album. The album cover plays on this aesthetic, with his face coated in mud and a daisy held between his teeth.

Hozier is from Bray, Ireland, and in “Unreal Unearth,” he ties his native culture into his music. In his opening track, “De Selby (Part 1),” we hear him sing about the darkness of night and the reality of yourself, first in English, then in Irish. 

In “First Time,” he muses on an old love and compares the River Lethe to the River Liffey. River Lethe is a Greek mythological river that was said to erase memories from the dead. River Liffey is a river in Ireland that is a focal point in Dublin. This song is the most reminiscent of his typical sound, playing with distorted and layered vocals. It sounds similar to songs off his second studio album “Wasteland, Baby!” mixing both folk and alternative production. 

“To Someone From A Warm Climate (Uiscefhuaraithe)” features Hozier singing to a loved one about the change of weather and time and how it affects them. Only twice does he sing the word “Uiscefhuaraithe,” which, in Irish, means water coolness. 

But none of the songs can describe his relationship to being Irish like “Butchered Tongue” does. He sings about his exposure to other cultures, but how none of them quite felt like home the way Ireland did. He talks about the changes in Irish culture, the dying language, and songs referring back to it. “Butchered Tongue” has distant violins in the background, adding an eerie sound. That eerie feeling can relate back to the theme of dying language and culture. If his emphasis on culture wasn’t evident enough in the previous songs, “Butchered Tongue” reinforces the message.

“Anything But” refers back to Irish lakes, personifying them. He sings about the peace and the life-changing effect he could receive if he were the lakes. But how could he use them as an escape when all he wants to do is run?

Hozier’s previous works touch on his culture, but not in a way “Unreal Unearth” does. Unreal Unearth” sinks deep into it, luxuriating in the language, in Ireland’s geography, and the way he stays in touch with it despite his exposure and integration into other cultures. 

He maintains the heavy bass and guitar-reliant songs in “De Selby,” “Eat Your Young,” “Who We Are,” “All Things End,” and “First Light.” But he digs deep into his softer noises this time, relying on violins, acoustic guitars, and layered vocals. 

Having listened to “Unreal Unearth” more times than I could count, I can say it holds the same ethereal sounds and feelings as his other albums. It holds up to the high bar he has set, if not surpassing it. Adding his culture to his perfected deep prose and enchanting composition only added to the album’s depth.



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