Hozier – Hozier


(Now, how does a nice Irish boy come up with an Americana song that sounds like a slowed-down version of a traditional chain gang song, and with the lyrics that could easily come out of a mountain man. Go figure. But eff me! This song! Jasmine)

The recipient of much hype and praise for his breakthrough single “Take Me to Church,” Ireland’s Hozier
does plenty to back it up on his self-titled debut LP. A soulful voice
and a brooding mystique can get you a long way but fortunately, most of
the material here is well-written enough to warrant a deeper look at the
young artist many have labeled an old soul. Like fellow Irishman Van Morrison did decades before, Hozier (Andrew Hozier-Byrne) draws on the soul and R&B of Jackie Wilson and runs it through the mystery white-boy filter of Jeff Buckley, adding a touch of Bon Iver‘s rural indie aesthetic to mix into his own dark cocktail. Moodcraft and vibe are where Hozier
is at his most effective and he hits his mark on the eerie,
midnight-hour blues of “Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene”
with its subtle layers of creepy choir boy and gospel vocals. It’s the
logical sequel to his equally haunting “Take Me to Church,” which leads
off this set. Coming in at 53 minutes and 13 tracks, the record is
probably a bit too lengthy. The album’s best tracks, like the warm,
laid-back “Someone New” and the grandiose shuffling of “From Eden” are
all front loaded in the first half, while side two feels a bit weighed
down with a few too many slow, contemplative pieces. When you’re dealing
with the kind of spells Hozier
is casting, it’s always best to leave them wanting more. Still, the
dirge blues of “It Will Come Back,” with its dirty fiddle and electric
guitar pairing, manages to rattle the church pews enough to help anchor
the back half. In spite of its extra padding and occasional foibles,
it’s a strong debut and Hozier
is far more commanding and convincing than so many other blues-inspired
young turks lurking conspicuously in the alleyways of indiedom.

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