“Wasteland, Baby!” won’t waste your time

Hozier's album

Courtesy of Rubyworks Records

Hozier's album "Wasteland, Baby!"comes nearly five years after his self-titled album in 2014.

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When Hozier’s first single “Take Me to Church” was released September 2013, we were doing the Harlem Shake, listening to Lorde’s “Royals” and watching Vines on the actual app rather than in 15 minute YouTube compilations. That same year, I played Hozier’s “Cherry Wine” at my sixth grade guitar recital and felt exceptionally cool doing so. Hozier has stayed relevant through the roughest times, namely middle school, making his most recent release “Wasteland, Baby!” my most anticipated album of 2019.

“Wasteland, Baby!” is a showcase of Hozier’s knowledge of music history. From featuring activist and singer Mavis Staples to referencing 14 different musician activists in one track and 17 old jazz songs in another, this album is a major flex on anyone who likes to consider themself a music buff. Alongside Hozier’s appreciation of music of the past is his ability to refresh the tried and true methods of jazz and blues music in his own work. Each track on “Wasteland, Baby!” offers a both nostalgic and intriguing sound, leaving the audience comforted by the warm tones of folk and jazz influence while still intrigued by Hozier’s classic rhythmic guitar and sharp percussion.

The perfectly orchestrated collision of these two styles is “Almost (Sweet Music),” a song that features the aforementioned 17 old jazz song titles. The bittersweet hopefulness of this song is a tone often used by Hozier, seen in songs off his last album, like “In a Week” and “Cherry Wine.” Combining his own earthy tone with a jazz-inspired syncopated beat perfect for a good hand clap, Hozier created a song that is catchy enough to get people listening, and unique enough to make them stay. My friends and I like to say that you know a song is good when you can feel it in your chest, and the lines “I’ve got some color back / She thinks so, too / I laugh like me again / She laughs like you” really got me. From the beat to the lyrics to the clap-ability, this song is perfect to get you into “Wasteland, Baby!.”

While “Almost (Sweet Music)” is immediately catchy and likeable, the title track “Wasteland, Baby!” took a little more time for me to get into, but was definitely worth the wait. I was honestly unsure of the seemingly rhythmically mismatched instrumentals and vocals on this track, but after stepping back and looking at the meaning of the song as a whole, I fell in love with it. Hozier borrows the name “Wasteland, Baby!” from an old folk song (yet another flex) about falling in love as the world is ending, and he perfectly emulates what I would imagine that to feel like both lyrically and musically. The slight shake of Hozier’s voice and the resonant acoustic guitar gives me shivers every time I hear this track and is a perfect soundtrack for a dusky drive after a long day to clear your head.

Whether you are looking for nostalgia, romance, gloom or an upbeat bop, “Wasteland, Baby!” is here for you. This long-awaited album exceeded all my expectations through old and new sounds, lyrical Easter eggs and overall versatility, making it one of my favorite albums released in 2019 so far. If you haven’t given Hozier a listen past “Take Me to Church,” try out “Wasteland, Baby!” for a collection of unique rhythms, history lessons and overall good music.

 

The Parkway West Pathfinder gives “Wasteland, Baby!” a 9.6/10.

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