Hozier is a soulful blues and folk musician whose self-titled debut album must be added to your collection with haste. Stimulating is just one word that springs to mind when describing Hozier’s often-haunting melodies, which add a taste of gospel to the Irish musician’s already-bluesy sound. Pairing strong vocals with choral contributions, Hozier carries a sense of softness in his work but still manages to truly impact his listeners’ ears.
Born Andrew Hozier-Byrne in County Wicklow, Ireland on 17 March 1990, Hozier’s musical influences are rooted in African-American music and a variety of blues-infused styles. His father is, in fact, a blues musician in Dublin whose collection of Chicago blues records became a great inspiration to his son, who went on to study music at Trinity College. Hozier, however, decided to take a different path and pursue his own musical interests by withdrawing from his studies to concentrate on his own work.
Two EPs came out ahead of Hozier’s debut album, namely Take Me To Church in 2013 and From Eden in early 2014. Many of the songs from these extended plays appear on the 13-track record, some of which have been re-worked, such as ‘Angel of Death’ and ‘The Codeine Scene’ with its crescendo feel and added guitar layers. ‘From Eden’ is another widely-aired track, its uplifting melody cleverly combined with dark lyrics, while ‘Cherry Wine’, which was first heard in 2013, remains untouched and appears as the original, recorded on the rooftop of a hotel.
‘To Be Alone’ is a chilling example of Hozier’s ability to combine his voice and guitar in a way that delivers an impressive amount of emotion while, in contrast, ‘Jackie and Wilson’ characterises Hozier’s uplifting melodic side. With old-style gospel-influenced pieces, like ‘Work Song’ and engagingly simple works such as ‘Someone New’, Hozier’s album will have you hooked from beginning to end.
As for the surreal artworks upon his album and EPs, they are the creation of Hozier’s mother, Rose Hozier-Byrne and seem to perfectly depict the entrance into a collection of songs that express a diverse range of emotions, styles and subjects.