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Hozier’s Unreal Unearth Unearths Me

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Source: Hozier.com

Released on Aug. 18, Unreal Unearth  is Andrew Hozier-Byrne’s third album, following his self-titled Hozier and Wasteland, Baby! And, personally, it changed my life.

The album opens with “De Selby (Part 1)” with a low, homely feeling guitar. This feeling sticks throughout the rest of the album, making this slow opening perfect. The second half of the track is sung in Irish, a first that the Irish singer-songwriter finally explored on this album.

The seamless and impressive transition between “De Selby (Part 1)” and “De Selby (Part 2)” serves as a preview as to how all the songs in the album flow into each other, with melodic vocals and lyrics inspired by Dante’s Inferno.

It is evident that the love detailed in this album is otherworldly, with the line “Heaven is not fit to house a love like you and I” being featured in “Francesca,” a beautiful piece that had previously been released as a single prior to Unreal Unearth’s release. 

Unreal Unearth very impressively keeps the same overall feeling while going through many different emotions, with slow emotional songs like “I, Carrion (Icarian),” inspired by the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus, and more high energy tracks like “Damage Gets Done,” which, despite sounding so upbeat, still carry heavy lyrics.

“Son of Nyx” is an instrumental interlude right in the middle of the album, featuring scores from other songs in the album, bundled up into something that could only be described as beautiful. It’s at this point in the album where it’s practically impossible to not sit back, speechless, in awe, and take in all that is Unreal Unearth.

A strange sense of comfort comes from the lyrics of “All Things End,” where, as the title describes, everything is bound to end eventually. Yet it isn’t sad, it’s just accepted, a fact of life. Now in the second half of the album, that’s something to keep in mind, as even this awe-inspiring album will end. (That’s when you hit replay.)

“Anything But” is probably the only actually happy song in this album, with a peppy beat and lyrics about being free and good. This song is still not in-your-face happy as it’s a Hozier song, but it stands out among the rest of the album. 

Next is my personal favorite from this album, “Abstract (Psychopomp).” Ironic how a song about roadkill can sound so ethereal, but it truly does. Very few songs have ever given me this feeling before, but a close comparison is the end of Hozier’s “In a Week” from his self-titled album.

Source: @Hozier on Instagram

For those who did not know, a psychopomp is a guide of souls to the place of the dead in Greek mythology. With that knowledge, it becomes clearer how this song is an elegant homage to roadkill, as Hozier said in an interview about “Abstract (Psychopomp)” for Apple Music.

“As a kid, I saw somebody running into traffic to try and pick up an animal that had just been hit by a car. This song looks at that memory in an abstract way and sees all of this tenderness […] But it’s also about acceptance and letting go,” the singer expressed. 

This is all encapsulated in one lyric towards the beginning of “Abstract (Psychopomp),” and, in my opinion, is the best lyric in the entire album: “Your hand in my pocket to keep us both warm.”

There are few things I have ever heard that are so tender. A simple act, keeping each other warm, and that warmth encapsulates all, allowing room for healing from whatever the past may have held.

Truly unconditional love is once again in the second to last song, “Unknown / Nth.” In this track, Hozier sings about how no matter how far away his lover is, it doesn’t make a difference, and how he still carries so much goodness for them, despite whatever vague heartbreak had to occur for this album to be born.

The album closes out with “First Light,” which represents the end of Dante’s odyssey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. In this song, the relief of seeing the sky again after so much suffering is evident. Hozier says it perfectly, my exact thoughts after listening to this album all the way through for the third time, “After this I’m never going to be the same.”

Isabel Steuerman, a Hozier loving senior here at Hills, described Unreal Unearth as “all-consuming” and rated it a 9.2/10, saying that this album itself is an emotional journey. 

“Hozier has an extreme talent for beautiful, thought provoking lyrics,” she said, “While also crafting melodies you can turn your brain off and drift off to, depending on the experience you are looking for.”

Overall, this album is definitely extremely impressive. From the first time I listened to it, I declared it as a “no skip album,” which is something I almost never say, as I’m very picky with my music. Yet Hozier’s Unreal Unearth checks all of the musical boxes for me, so much so that after I stayed up to listen to the album upon release, I had a dream about being at a Hozier performance. With that, it’s fairly safe to say that this album definitely had a huge impact on me, and should definitely be listened to by anyone that is thinking about it.

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About the Contributor
Ren Nebet
Ren Nebet, Head Copy Editor
Ren is a senior that joined The Beacon as a Copy Editor in 2022. They love reading and writing poetry in their spare time, and they have a strange obsession with grammar. They love that The Beacon gives them a outlet to share their writing with others. They are a member of this year’s We The People team, and they are also currently involved with this year’s Shakespeare productions of Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night's Dream, playing Portia and Egeus respectively.
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