Singer-songwriter Hozier is releasing a new album this week  - this paper got to hear an exclusive playback arranged by independent record store Rough Trade and here's what we thought.

The Irish virtuoso, whose song Take Me to Church reached number two in the UK chart in 2014, has created his latest magnum opus Unreal Unearth.

A preview held in London on August 7 showcased all 16 tracks from the album for fans who were eagerly waiting for more since videos of tracks, including Eat Your Young and Francescawere uploaded on YouTube.

With a style seemingly impervious to the constraints of time, Hozier navigates his sonic voyage with the grace of a poet and the audacity of an explorer.

This album, a successor to the remarkable Wasteland, Baby, sees the artist embracing the echoes of his past while blazing an inventive trail toward the future.

A thematic undercurrent draws us into the abyss of Dante's Inferno, which Hozier has said he used as an inspiration for the album.

Hozier's lyrical mastery takes us on a journey through love and loss, myth and modernity, revealing profound layers of human experience.

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The album opens with the haunting and hypnotic "De Selby" (Parts 1 and 2), a nod to the darkly comedic novel The Third Policeman. Hozier's ethereal vocals traverse between English and Gaelic, accompanied by a chorus of voices.

The journey continues through the circles of hell, each track a reflection of human emotions.

First Time delves into the limbo of a tumultuous relationship, while Francesca resonates with the second circle of lust, painting a vivid portrait of star-crossed love.

Hozier's penchant for social commentary finds a poignant outlet in Eat Your Young, a catchy and dark reflection on the sacrifice of future generations by a society built on stereotypical expectations of men and women.

Hozier's signature introspection takes centre stage in tracks such as All Things End, where his evocative falsetto intertwines with swooning strings, inviting us to contemplate the impermanence of love and existence.

Throughout the album, he masterfully wields his voice as an instrument of emotional resonance, evoking vivid imagery and tugging at heartstrings.

Unreal Unearth also sees a collaboration with co-writers, adding nuanced layers to Hozier's artistry. Tracks like Damage Gets Done, featuring the enchanting vocals of Brandi Carlile, showcase the magic of creative synergy, elevating the album's sonic landscape to new heights.

In a triumphant finale, First Light emerges as a burst of radiance, an ode to renewal and hope. Hozier's voice soars alongside strings and a celestial choir, leaving us with the promise that even amidst life's darkest corners, a dawn awaits.

The album is a juxtaposition— of ancient themes meeting contemporary concerns, of intellectual depth blending seamlessly with sensual emotion.

Unreal Unearth officially launches on August 18.