Album Choice – Hozier: Hozier

Fri, Sep 19, 2014, 00:00






There is a breach in the natural order when you realise Andrew Hozier-Byrne is just 24-years-old. To have such an understanding of the vital pulse points of Delta blues, soul and gospel is just downright unfair. Was the Wicklow man brought up on a diet of Atlantic and Stax records with a bit of the more primal Van Morrison thrown in? Because that’s sure what this debut sounds like. You know the score here: Hozier’s splendid Take Me to Church got heat and is now pushing the nine-million-view mark on Youtube . A whisper turned to a scream as his talent got unfurled internationally and even an early endorsement from Taylor Swift couldn’t stall the momentum. His remarkable vocal is at the forefront here. There’s grit and substance to this blue-eyed soulful delivery – listen to his reading of From Eden. Such is his ease with registers and keys, at times he can sound like Counting Crow’s Adam Durwitz, other times like a seriously pissed off Antony Hegarty, and here and again like a nuanced, late-career Robert Plant. Musically it’s taut, and as the thrilling Jackie and Wilson and the mental-good Work Song attest, this is as far from boilerplate soul/blues as Hozier is from most every other current chart Irish act today. Even the small touches work: that spectral choir emerging from nowhere during Someone New, the eerie hush that envelops the battered folk stylings of Like Real People Do. Debut albums have no right to sound like this.