Unearthed: Hozier Uncovers Another World To Listeners With New Album

This August, Irish singer-songwriter Hozier released his third studio album, Unreal Unearth. Unreal Unearth is filled with beautiful, poetic lyrics and themes of love and loss.
This August, Irish singer-songwriter Hozier released his third studio album, Unreal Unearth. Unreal Unearth is filled with beautiful, poetic lyrics and themes of love and loss.
Hadley Norris

Irish singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne, more commonly known by his stage name Hozier, first became famous with his hit single Take Me to Church. Almost a decade later, Hozier is taking us straight through the underworld with his third studio album, Unreal Unearth.

Hozier’s folksy, R&B style first captured the world in 2014 with his breakout hit, Take Me To Church, claiming first on the charts in at least a dozen countries. But 10 years and two studio albums later, Hozier’s use of religious, mythological, and classical literature themes is still creating the beautiful music that first propelled him to international fame. 

Unreal Unearth has similar themes to Hozier’s other two albums, the self-titled R&B and rock Hozier released in 2014, and the 2019 folksy apocalyptic serenade, Wasteland, Baby. Despite the overlapping themes, Hozier still managed to create a unique sound with his third album. Unreal Unearth highlights the prevalence of love, loss, relationships, and breakups. The songs in Unreal Unearth fluctuate between beautiful love ballads and tragic songs about loss, conveying the ups and downs of a relationship.

First Time

Hozier’s third track on the album, First Time, is a personal favorite. First Time is a sweet and catchy song about infatuation that you could play in the car or dance alone to in your room. Hozier describes his partner with lyrics like:

“And the first time that you kissed me/ I drank dry the River Lethe”

In Greek mythology, The River Lethe is the river of forgetfulness, signifying that being kissed made Hozier forget everything.

“Some part of me must have died / The first time that you called me ‘Baby.’”

“And some part of me came alive / The first time that you called me ‘Baby.’”

These lyrics in the chorus convey Hozier’s feeling of admiration for his partner, saying that being called “baby” made him feel like he died and was resurrected.

Hozier wrote most of this album during the pandemic. Like the rest of us, he had a lot more time to himself, dealing with anxieties about death and isolation. With all the vacant time he had, he began reading all the classic literature he never got around to. Shortly after Unreal Unearth’s release, Hozier discussed the album’s themes, which emanated from the classic literature he read in an interview for Variety. 

“I think a lot of the atmosphere of the time was finding its way into me and resonating with some of the stuff that I was reading at the time,” Hozier said. “Here was this global event that involved a huge amount of change. And with free time, I no longer had excuses to not read some of the classics and the epic, long-form poetry I had always wanted to.” 

And that’s when he found inspiration in one of the most famous works of classical poetry, Dante’s Inferno. Inferno is the first part of his three-part 14th-century poem, where Dante is being guided through the nine circles of Hell. The nine circles go in order of entrance and their severity, with the first circle being Limbo, where those who never knew God reside, and the most severe, Treachery, where Satan resides. 

“I settled on using that structure of nine circles to reflect upon some of these personal experiences without making a pandemic album or lockdown album,” Hozier said. 


The title of the fourth track on the album gets its name straight from Inferno. Francesca is a reference to the second circle of Hell, lust. Here, Dante encounters Francesca and Paolo, lovers who were murdered by Francesca’s husband when their affair was discovered. In Hozier’s Francesca, he sings from the perspective of Paolo, unafraid to die and be condemned to the “whirling cyclone” that punishes the lustful in the second circle of Hell. The first verse says:

Do you think I’d give up? / That this might’ve shook the love from me?”

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

In the chorus, he expresses: 

“I’d tell them, ‘Put me back in it’ / Da-ah, darlin’, I would do it again.”

“If I could hold you for a minute / Da-ah, darlin’, I’d go through it again.”

The song ends with Hozier’s ethereal singing and the layering of the beautiful lyrics:

“I would not change it each time / Heaven is not fit to house a love like you and I.”

Eat Your Young

On the sixth track of the album, Hozier ventures into Dante’s third and fourth circles of Hell, gluttony and greed. Eat Your Young, calling attention to the greed and exploitation of the youth, sounds so smooth and catchy that you almost miss how dark the song is. The lyrics in the chorus perfectly illustrate this:

“Come and get some / Skinnin’ the children for a war drum.”

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

Eat Your Young also references how the rich and those in power incessantly increase their wealth at the expense of others, while celebrating their miniscule philanthropic efforts to conceal their true nature. The second verse says:

“We can celebrate the good that we’ve done / I won’t lie if there’s somethin’ still to take.”

“There is ground to break, whatever’s still to come.”

The pandemic wasn’t the only thing that influenced Hozier’s songwriting. Hozier revealed that he dealt with a painful breakup, influencing the themes of loss and love on the album. In an interview with The Independent, Hozier expressed that struggle. 

“It’s devastating,” Hozier said. “I was channeling that feeling of coming out the far side of such admiration and such worship, and that feeling [of] being let down and having your expectations dashed.”

All Things End

All Things End is a song about breakups and relationships ending in general. Like Eat Your Young, this song’s soothing sound almost conceals the painful lyrics about losing someone you care about and not being able to do anything about it. The lyrics in the chorus encapsulate this sorrow: 

“And all things end / All that we intend is scrawled in sand.”

“Or slips right through our hands / And just knowin’ that everyone will end.”

“Should not change our plans.”

Hozier compares his relationship ending to writing in sand being washed away by the tide, or something slipping right through his hands. He is saying that what you have can disappear so quickly that it is almost like it was never there.


Unknown/Nth is another one of my favorites from the album. It starts off with Hozier’s voice in a smooth, almost whisper:

“You know the distance never made a difference to me / I swam a lake of fire, I’d have walked across the floor of any sea.”

Unknown/Nth starts seeming like a song about admiration, but as the song progresses, it tackles a darker tone: 

“Funny how true colors shine in darkness and in secrecy / If there were scarlet flags, they washed down in the mind of me.”

As his partner’s true nature is revealed, he is starting to notice red flags he’d previously ignored. In the bridge, there is a crescendo that contrasts with the rest of the song which started off as slow and rather chill until this point. The lyrics of the bridge are my favorite, and perhaps the most poetic of the song:

“Do you know, I could break beneath the weight / Of the goodness, love, I still carry for you.”

“That I’d walk so far just to take / The injury of finally knowing you.”

Hozier knows that the relationship is not good for him, but he still loves them, making it all the more heartbreaking. He would still go to great lengths for the one he loves, even if that means being hurt.

Overall, Unreal Unearth is a powerful album that exemplifies Hozier’s growth and evolution as an artist. Hozier managed to branch out and use new sounds and themes that he hadn’t used as much before, all while staying true and authentic to his vibe. Unreal Unearth is definitely one of my favorite albums.


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About the Contributors
Alessandra Ashford
Alessandra Ashford, Opinions Editor
Class of 2025 When I’m not writing or editing you can find me reading, drawing, painting, listening to music, and ranting. I always love to tell stories and start conversations. I’m so excited to be on Student Press!
Shivani Kondubhatla
Shivani Kondubhatla, A&E Editor
Class of 2025  Feeding my ardent love for both the arts and journalism, I am beyond excited to take on the role of the Arts & Entertainment editor to represent the fine arts and pop culture not only at Westwood but also in our buzzing community. Outside of the newsroom, I am most likely cherishing time with friends, watching sit-coms (probably Modern Family!), or sustaining my unhealthy coffee addiction. 
Hadley Norris
Hadley Norris, Graphics Editor
Class of 2024 I look forward to designing graphics this year, you can always find me in the caption :)

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