Sophomore Slump? Not For Hozier.

Andrew Hozier-Byrne, better known only as Hozier, is currently on tour, promoting his new album, "Wasteland, Baby!" This new album comes nearly four years after his self-titled debut album, and while many artists struggle with their sophomore albums, that has absolutely not been the case for Hozier. With beautiful lyrics and a perfect balance of jazz, pop, gospel and rock influences, Hozier has come up with a sophomore album that holds its own against his first and has debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

 

 

“Wasteland, Baby!” is a 14 track album that balances politically charged songs like “Nina Cried Power” and “Be,” with pure love songs like, “Movement” and “Would That I.” Hozier ends the album with the title track, “Wasteland, Baby!” a song that laments the coming end of the world with lyrics like, “When the stench of the sea and the absence of green, Are the death of all things that are seen and unseen,” while also celebrating love, “And I love too, that love soon might end, Be known in its aching, Shown in the shaking, Lately of my wasteland, baby.” This juxtaposition of coming doom and love is carried throughout the album, and Hozier speaks about it frequently throughout his live shows.

 

On March 14, 2019, Hozier played at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia. The show was opened by Jade Bird, a London based singer-songwriter who has just announced her debut, self-titled album and her UK headlining tour. Going into the show never having heard Bird’s music, I was surprised by her sound. When Bird came on stage, she appeared unassuming and mild, but her music was powerful. Bird’s lyrics were angry and emotional, and she had powerhouse vocals. A full band would really bring Bird’s sound to the next level, and she is definitely going to be an artist to keep your eye on.

 

 

After Bird’s set, Hozier came out and opened his set with “Would That I” and “Dinner and Diatribes.” The setlist was unexpected with Hozier playing a good mix of older and newer songs, without only playing his biggest hits. The Norfolk show was made extra special when Hozier played the live debut of “No Plan,” a song inspired by the works of Lawrence M. Krauss and Katie Mack. The song focuses on the end of the world, and rejoicing in every moment with love because one day it will all be gone. After his set, Hozier came back for two encores, playing “Cherry Wine” and “Work Song,” both fan favorites from his debut album, with a slower, more melodic vibes.

 

It’s hard to describe what makes Hozier come across as so ethereal. Maybe it’s in the way he talks about the end of the world as if he knows when it will happen. Maybe it’s in the way he describes a shrike killing its prey “elegant” and “horrible” and therefore “the perfect name for a love song.” Or maybe (probably) it's in the way he makes everything seem so effortless. The way he moves, the way he sings and the way he talks about his music, all flows like water down a hill. I could go for the terrible pun about Hozier taking us all to church, but that feels like it would cheapen the experience. Hozier's performance was truly one of the most moving shows I have ever experienced, and I cannot wait to see him perform again soon.

 

 

Hozier still has tons of dates left in his "Wasteland, Baby!"  tour, so you have plenty of chances left to catch this show. You can see Hozier locally at the Altria Theater in Richmond, Virginia, on May 23, 2019.

 

 

Photos by Author, Garnette Ransone.