Andrew Hozier-Byrne’s debut album is the most innovative compilation that the alt/rock scene has witnessed in a long time. Known simply as Hozier, the Irish artist is now widely recognised for his first single ‘Take Me To Church’, taken from his debut album Hozier.
This song is so raw. And perhaps more importantly, it’s honest. There seems to be a revival of artists who voice their own opinions and experiences, as opposed to acting as spokespersons for their record label. While the track has been in the UK Top 40 for ten weeks and has received an impressive 13,000,000 views on its music video, the rest of Hozier’s work proves that he is not merely a one-hit wonder.
The self-titled Hozier essentially revolves around the concepts of love and sex in modern times. He manages to avoid the superficial mediocrity associated with these themes by entwining unrefined blues and soul into his outspoken lyrics. The result is a piece like ‘Work Song’, a mournful, trudging composition with little accompaniment besides syncopated percussion and Hozier’s sorrowful voice. Solemn tracks are balanced by upbeat gems with humorous lyrics such as ‘Someone New’: “Love with every stranger/The stranger the better/I fall in love just a little, oh, little bit/Every day with someone new”.
The sound that Hozier has captured is not overused, excessively produced music. The tracks are so gritty and truthful that there is little time for listeners to do anything but revel in the magical connection that the artist’s music creates. To compare, the songs sound something like Alabama Shakes’ ‘Hold On’ and The Black Keys’ ‘Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be’.
There is not one dull track on the album; from beginning to end, it’s engaging and strangely satisfying. Hozier questions social tribulations such as homophobia and repressive cultural institutions in his music, and he does this by putting them into stories and covering them with bluesy tones. He presents tragedy in such an unsettling, beautiful format that it’s impossible to not be captivated immediately.
Hozier plays the O2 ABC in Glasgow November 16.