Music Review: Hozier’s 'Unreal Unearth' is an eclectic mix of belting anthems and earthy acoustics

This cover image released by Rubyworks Ltd./Columbia Records shows "Unreal Unearth" by Hozier. (Rubyworks Ltd./Columbia Records via AP)

“Unreal Unearth,” Hozier (Columbia Records)

Andrew John Hozier-Byrne, the Irish musician who records under the moniker Hozier, has recently become associated with the cottagecore TikTok trend.

These TikToks consist of soft acoustic music — often “Would That I,” from Hozier's 2019 album “Wasteland, Baby!” — playing in the background of imagery that can only be described as “cozy fall vibes." It's usually videos of fall leaves, people strolling in scenic hiking areas, or photos of decor that evoke a home in the woods.

Clearly, rich visual lyricism — about nature, love and beyond — are at the core of Hozier’s songwriting. That continues on his third album, 2023’s “Unreal Unearth.”

The release highlights the singer-songwriter’s soft acoustic ballads, the kind commonly associated with the aforementioned cozy falls, and he also shows off his vocal prowess in powerful songs meant to be sung at the top of his lungs.

The album opens with “De Selby Part 1,” which starts off with a soft and slow melody. Its successor, the track, “De Selby Part 2,” does not. Here, it’s clear he is inspired by symphonic funk and soul music.

The album has some firsts, like Hozier singing in Gaelic on a few tracks, including “To Someone From A Warm Climate (Uiscefhuaraithe).”

Ultimately, the album is a collection of his strengths. Hozier knows his way around a slow burn, like the ability to slowly build up and deliver a powerful chorus in “Francesca.”

That differs from a track like “I, Carrion,” which hits almost like a lullaby, quickly followed by “Eat Your Young,” which swells with powerful bass and lyrics that exude a sense of danger and gluttony.

“Seven new ways that you can eat your young / Come and get some” Hozier sings.

A surprise collaboration on the album is an upbeat duet with Brandi Carlile on “Damage Gets Done,” a celebratory soundtrack to a long road trip.

“Unreal Unearth” is a journey that ebbs and flows from start to finish. With each track, listeners learn to “unearth” a new layer of the journey, from loud to quiet, from dark to light.