Starting with a holler and ending with a hush, Hozier’s second album was hauntingly alluring


“That’s it.”

These two whispered words closed Hozier’s 14-track lyrical and musical masterpiece, Wasteland, Baby!, with a chill-inducing clarity.

That was it. That was the end to the album I had been anticipating for months. It’s over. That’s it.

Hozier’s poetic phrases, tear-jerking acoustic guitar (I seriously shed a couple of tears), and rhythmic beats traveled through my headphones and into my soul for an hour—and the journey came to a clarifying close with Hozier’s hauntingly hushed “that’s it.”

“Wasteland, Baby!,” the final song of the album, was an ethereal, soft-spoken, mournfully romantic love song that sounded like the underside of a delicate rose: the smooth, silky, soft side of a thorn-ridden flower. It was a ballad, a love song, a painfully poetic dedication to someone of deep meaning. The song started whole—it started unbroken and together—but as it unraveled, the glass shattered, and the initial innocence to the lyrics turned thorny.

“Wasteland, baby / I’m in love, I’m in love with you / And I love too, that love soon might end / Be known in its aching / Shown in the shaking / Lately of my wasteland, baby.”

Declaring his love, obvious in the first two lines, is just the glue that is attempting to hold the fragments of fear and fright. “Wasteland, Baby!” was my favorite song from the album; it’s raw, and simply put, beautiful lyrics spoke softly to my soul and the simple guitar accompanying it brought actual tears to my eyes.

Thirteen songs before this point of tears, I was innocently listening to “Nina Cried Power,” a slamming opener that had been previously released in his EP from September. It’s an anthem that shakes you to the core and furiously, ferociously, and fiercely lays the foundation for the album. At this point, I was not crying.

I would be an hour later.

Moving down the tracklist, I familiarly listened to the songs that had been previously released, either as singles weeks before the album release or from the EP. “Almost (Sweet Music),” an upbeat, clap-and-sing-along tune showcased Hozier’s folk-inspired roots and deep, rich voice.

“No Plan” was a guitar-heavy, and I hate to say it, groovy tune that had me dancing in my bed at approximately 12:15 a.m. Sounding strikingly similar to another track down the list, “Be,” both songs packed a powerful punch, both lyrically and musically.

“Nobody,” also similar sounding to “No Plan” and “Be,” opened with Hozier’s signature high-pitched hums—one of my favorite sounds. Clear and rich, he soulfully sings his heart out in this song. “Nobody” is one of my favorite songs to dance and groove to from the album; I loved his sporadic and soulful hollers.

Slowing it down to melancholic guitar string-plucking in “As It Was,” Hozier’s Irish roots resurfaced and flourished in this haunting tune. Eerie harmonies between the guitar plucks, violin, piano, and Hozier’s hums combined to make a chilling, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat song.

When I first heard “Talk,” I felt an ice-cold chill course through my body as soon as Hozier belted out the lyric: “Imagine being loved by me.” At this point, I was nine songs into the album, and it had been a very emotional night—I still was five songs away from the song that made me cry, so I had absolutely no idea what was going to hit me in about fifteen minutes.

Snapping and clapping rhythms, soulful electric guitar, a chorus of chilly hums, and grimy lyrics were the backbone of this song. Hozier’s howls—actual howls—shook me to my core and genuinely shivered me. I felt colder after listening to this fiery song.

“Would That I” had similar elements to “Talk,” although it wasn’t nearly as bone-chilling. More upbeat and acoustic, it brought out Hozier’s folksier side that hadn’t surfaced in a while. How high, and still clear, Hozier’s deep and rich voice can get is astonishing, and the shock in no way dissipated by the time I reached this song.

At this point, there were two songs left of the highly-anticipated album. Two songs left, and that would be it.

“Sunlight,” the second to last song of the album, didn’t sound like sunshine at all—it was yet another hauntingly poetic, guitar-heavy, chanting and clapping song.

And then, the finale. The “that’s it” of songs. The end of my journey. The song that made me cry. The song that I’ve run out of adjectives and metaphors and similes to describe: “Wasteland, Baby!”

After all of his howls and hums and hollers throughout the album, Hozier ended Wasteland, Baby with a hush.

And I ended it with a silent cry, grateful for music like Hozier’s that moves me and speaks to me in ways that I’ve never experienced before.