New Hozier album is missing something

Hozier released his second album,

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Hozier released his second album, “Wasteland, Baby!”. Photo by Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Six years ago, Andrew Hozier-Byrnes’ “Take Me to Church” took off in the charts as a surprise folk-gospel Top 40 hit. His self-titled debut album gained popularity as well when released a year later, with both the folk crowd and pop followers that had discovered him from his smash hit.

Hozier waited five years after the hype to release any new music, starting with a few tracks from his new album “Wasteland, Baby!” In an EP released months before his second full album, “Nina Cried Power” and “Shrike” showed hopeful prospects of what was to come. One prospect was an ode to his musical and social influences such as Nina Simone, James Brown, Billie Holiday and Patti Smith. And the other, a dark tune with cutting-edge lyrics, new to Hozier’s pallet: “I couldn’t whisper when you needed it shouted,” he said in the song. “Ah, but I’m singing like a bird, ‘bout it now.”

When his album finally dropped, I had expectations set too high based on his previous releases. That’s not to say that anything on the tracks was awful- Hozier has a beautiful voice, after all, and his gospel-like style plucks the heart chords in the way it always has. But overall, his new album feels merely transitional and on the verge of the depth that his audience expected.

Only a handful of songs stuck out to me as noteworthy. In particular, the upbeat “Almost (Sweet Music)” and the somber, heartbreaking “As It Was” show real potential, and shine a light on Hozier’s developing skills. I’ve listened through the album a few times since its release, and I couldn’t name any of the other songs without glancing at the set list.

Regardless, “Wasteland, Baby!” is worth a listen for those who are fans of Hozier’s innovative lyrics and miss his soulful execution. Who knows, maybe it’ll grow on me.

Rate: 2.5/5

Rayanne Painter can be reached at [email protected] or @rayphenomenon on Twitter.