The Irish have an amazing capacity for musical intensity. Even the quiet ballads transmit a sense of drama and passion that threatens to erupt at any moment. We’ve seen this in the work of Van Morrison, U2, and Damien Rice. Welcome to the stage newcomer Andrew Byrne Hozier, aka, Hozier. The son of a musician, the 24 year-old dropped out of Trinity College’s School of music to pursue his career. In short time he released “Take Me to Church” a single that celebrates sexuality. It raced to the top of the Irish charts, and then spread to world-wide acclaim.
Hozier’s lyrics often sound like reproaches to religious restrictions, but the church is a strong influence on the music. “Take Me Church” is sung as a hymn to sexual freedom. “Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene” is a gospel sing-a-long. Blues and R&B sneak into the mix as on “Jackie and Wilson, with its subtle nod to Van Morrison’s “Jackie Wilson Said.” Production is mostly sparse, with instruments meted out so not to crowd each other out. Hozier’s lyrics are seductive and intimate, and feel like an invitation into the inner thoughts of the singer. His voice adapts to the tempo and mood of each song. His best moments come in his folk ballads, particularly “In a Week,” a duet with Karen Cowley. Their voices meld within a lilting melody and gorgeous lyrics – something that makes this album a standout among the multitude of singer/songwriter releases.
It would behoove you to spend time alone with this album. There is much to take in on the thirteen songs, from the slowly unraveling melodies, poetic imagery, the unique arrangements, and the intense delivery of the singer.
Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix Host)