Review: Hozier Continues to Encompass the Complexity of the Human Condition in Song on ‘Unreal Unearth’


Irish musician, singer, and songwriter Hozier has released his third full-length studio album, this time around offering 16-tracks that lay bare the best and worst of the world, and particularly the best and worst of being a human.

On my first listen through Unreal Unearth, I wrote down two words at the end for notes to refer to here later while writing this review: profoundly human. Every album Hozier manages to embody something special about the human condition, connecting each of his listeners to his thoughts and feelings, to each other, and to the world, reminding us that we’re all human in the end.

Hozier’s albums have addressed complex themes from the beginning, even societal issues that are often kept in the dark and ignored. They’re heavy hitting lyrics — Hozier does not shy away from writing about domestic violence, religious trauma, domestic violence, addiction, abuse of power, the horrors of living as a woman and/or member of the LGBTQ+ community, colonialism and the eradication of cultures, and more.

Fortunately, this is a continuation seen tenfold in this third album.

For Unreal Unearth, in fact, Hozier seems to have written in many ways about the very worst of humanity and the many atrocious things we’re capable of doing to ourselves, to one another, and to the planet. And while this may sound like the opposite of comfort, this couldn’t be the furthest thing from the truth — Hozier’s presentation of the lyrics is soaked in reassurance that our imperfections are what make us human, that there is value and courage in just continuing forward and finding a way to begin again in a world that seems to actively prevent it. It’s the sort of tender and comforting consolation that makes his listeners feel seen, loved, and forgiven.

The overwhelming aspect that continues to be beautiful about Hozier’s music is how it not only connects with each of those who truly listen to the lyrics and allow the music to make them feel, it embeds into you and insists that you allow it to take you on an emotional, introspective examination of the human condition.

As expected, the music that accompanies Hozier’s lyrical masterpieces is every measurable amount equal, often building the emotions the lyrics are conveying with a matching, often ethereal tone. There are multiple different styles on this album, on-trend with previous releases and another welcomed continuation in his musical career — Hozier knows when a song or subsequent songs will hit hard, and manages to offer changes in the lyrical themes and music style to bring listeners back up should they start feeling too low.

His voice lends beautifully to his unique combination of blues, folk, and soul; multiple songs on this album acting as a vocal showcase. Hozier, ever-connected to his heritage and willing to speak on the decimation of the Irish culture, not only brings Irish folklore into this album, he brings the Irish language more than once.

“Butchered Tongue” is a song in its entirety that treats Native languages like the lost art they are becoming. It is sorrowful, recognizing the blood and pain that has led to this loss; but also offering a celebration of the fact that the culture(s) have persevered still, the evidence of such in those who speak the languages still every day. It is a song that is steeped in commentary on the colonialism the Irish have experienced, but one that unfortunately many cultures can relate to. In an album with so many complex messages, this is the song that has lingered with me the most.

Below, we’ve given our favorite lyric(s) for each track.

“De Selby (Part 1)”

“The likes of a darkness so deep
That God at the start couldn’t bear.”

“De Selby (Part 2)”

“I don’t need to know where we begin and end
I’d still know you, not being shown you
I only need the workin’ of my hands.”

“First Time”

“When I was young I used to guess
Are there limits to any emptiness?”


“My life was a storm since I was born
How could I fear any hurricane?”

“I, Carrion (Icarian)”

“And though I burn how could I fall,
When I am lifted by every word you say to me?”

“Eat Your Young”

“Puttin’ food on the table, sellin’ bombs and guns
It’s quicker and easier to eat your young.”

“Damage Gets Done” ft. Brandi Carlile

“Wish I had known it was just our turn (We just got by)
Being blamed for a world we had no power in (But we tried)
You and I had nothin’ to show (We didn’t know)
But the best of the world in the palm of our hands.”

“Who We Are”

“You and I burned out our steam
Chasing someone else’s dream.
How can somethin’ be so much heavier
But so much less than what it seems?”

“Son of Nyx”

This track is instrumental and a welcomed return to non-lyrical songs in the middle of long albums. I’ve missed you, instrumental interludes.

“All Things End”

“And just knowin’ that everything will end
Won’t change our plans when we begin again.”

“To Someone From A Warm Climate (Uiscefhuaraithe)”

“And I wish I could say
That the river of my arms have found the ocean.
I wish I could say the cold lake water of my heart
Christ, it’s boilin’ over.”

“Butchered Tongue”

“And as a young man blessed to pass so many road signs
And have my foreign ear made fresh again on each unlikely sound
But feel at home, hearin’ a music that few still understand
A butchered tongue still singin’ here above the ground.”

“Anything But”

“I wanna be the thunder of a hundred thousand hooves moving quick
If I was a stampede you wouldn’t get a kick.
I wanna be the shadow when my bright future’s behind me.
I wanna be the last thing anybody ever sees.”

“Abstract (Psychopomp)”

“I remember the view, streetlights in the dark blue
The moment I knew I’d no choice but to love you.”

“Unknown / Nth”

“Funny how true colors shine in darkness and in secrecy.
If there were scarlet flags, they washed out in the mind of mе
Where a blindin’ light shone on you еvery night.”

“First Light”

“One bright morning goes so easy
Darkness always finds you either way
It creeps into the corners as the moment fades.”

Unreal Unearth is available to stream and purchase on platforms now.

Hannah’s a lifelong nerd, but has been with the team since May 2021. Her life is easily classified by two abbreviations - BBG3 and ABG3 (before Baldur’s Gate 3 and after Baldur’s Gate 3). Especially nerdy about: video games, folklore, Star Wars, D&D, Spider-Man, and horror (all of it). Based in Denver, CO.

Leave a Reply


Related articles

‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ Review: A Series Blessed by the Gods of Creativity [Spoiler-Free]

Later this month audiences will once again get the chance to watch Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, and Grover...

Noah Kahan Releases New Version of “Northern Attitude” Featuring Hozier

Noah Kahan continues to collect Infinity Stones in the form of epic music collaborations, and the latest happens...

‘Voyaging, Volume One: The Plague Star’ Review: A Stunning Visual Adaptation Of A Classic George R. R. Martin Tale

The first volume of Raya Golden's graphic novel adaptation of George R. R. Martin's Tuf Voyaging is here,...

‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ Review: A Loving Adaptation Made for the Fans

If you're already a Five Night's at Freddy's franchise fan ... congratulations! You're going to have so much...