Hozier's Wasteland, Baby!: What You Need To Know
For any recording artist, releasing your first single is a crucial moment which can determine the trajectory of your entire career. In the case of Irish singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne – better known mononymously as Hozier – the release of his 2013 debut 'Take Me To Church' could hardly have gone any better. With multi-platinum sales in a dozen countries and a Grammy award to boot, the single proved to be the ideal launchpad and helped catapult Hozier's self-titled debut LP to Top 3 chart positions on both sides of the Atlantic.
This week Hozier returns to deliver the keenly-awaited follow-up album Wasteland, Baby!, which makes its arrival in stores today. Here's everything you need to know about it...
A little background...
With his debut album enjoying huge chart success in all parts of the globe, it's not surprising that Hozier has spent much of the time since the release of his debut album on the road, with a string of tours that have taken him to venues across America, Europe and Australia, plus a few festivals thrown into the mix for good measure. The only new music in the meantime arrived in 2016 in the form of 'Better Love', Hozier's contribution to the soundtrack for David Yates' film The Legend of Tarzan.
Then in September last year, Hozier unveiled new EP Nina Cried Power, whose title track is not only a tribute to the great soul and jazz singers that have inspired his music, but also includes a guest appearance from a living legend in the form of soul singer Mavis Staples. Alongside its release, Hozier stated that he was busy working on a follow-up to his debut album and in January this year, the Irish singer-songwriter announced a release date and title for his second LP, Wasteland, Baby!
Who's producing it?
Hozier is co-producing the album alongside Rob Kirwan - who worked on Hozier's debut LP and whose previous credits include the likes of PJ Harvey, Depeche Mode and U2 - and Markus Dravs, who is perhaps best-known for his work with Mumford & Sons.
Any special guests?
Aside from the already-mentioned Mavis Staples, who appears on the album's opening track, it's pretty much just Hozier on his own here.
What does it sound like?
If you're hoping for more of the towering, soul-drenched anthems that made Hozier's debut an instant hit, then you'll be pleased to know that songs such as 'Nina Cried Power' and 'Movement' fit that bill nicely.
There's quite a bit of scope on offer elsewhere, though; 'Dinner & Diatribes' has more in common with the desert rock vibes of Songhoy Blues than anything you'd find on his debut, while there are plenty of more tender moments too, particularly on 'Shrike', which already made an appearance on last year's EP release
Does it deliver?
Having such a big hit in the early stages of a career can be a double-edged sword – just ask a member of Radiohead how they felt about 'Creep' – but if anyone was worried that 'Take Me To Church' would become a millstone around Hozier's neck, there's absolutely no evidence of that here.
There's plenty of big, soulful balladry in a similar vein, but there's clearly an ambition to expand his armoury a little too and Wasteland, Baby! takes some big strides away from its predecessor. Whether it matches the commercial success of his debut, only time will tell, but from a creative point of view, there are plenty of promising signs here that point to an artist who is still on the opening leg of his journey to the summit, rather than one who's already reached its peak.
Hozier's new album Wasteland, Baby! is out now in hmv stores.