Hi I’m Ariana Rivera and I like writing words and music so I asked some people about a way to combine the two and they gave me this job.
So lately, I’ve been obsessed, and I think you know what I mean. I’m talking about soul-sucking, mind-numbing, “Wow, I can’t stop listening” plain obsessed. This entire album and the man who writes it has stolen my heart and although it’s only been a couple of weeks, I just can’t help but love it.
Born Andrew Hozier-Byrne, 24, Irish born and gifted with a soulful, bluesy as hell voice, this man is relatively new to the industry, with his debut album, Hozier released in Ireland in September, and globally just last month. Studied music in Dublin for a bit and was involved in an Irish vocal choral group, but dropped that…to become who he is, a modern day, Van Morrison and a male Adele.
So let’s talk about his album, now that we have an understanding that he’s somewhat successful and a little bit beautiful.
Starting off with “Take Me to Church,” his first single that went viral on YouTube and topped the charts all around, we get a feel of how Hozier feels about love in his analogous parallel of love to religion: that falling in love essentially resulted in a death of everything. Not the happiest way to start the day, but the song starts off just a pure tone of his voice and some simple piano chords. Once we get going, background vocals come in, and for a second you see a hint of the vocal choral group roots that he has. The lyrics of this song are powerful once you reach the chorus, and we end the song not just with a pianist and smooth sounds of Hozier’s voice, but with a powerful guitar and drum combo, thundering through to make a statement.
So obviously, this guy has power, and we get a second hint of that in his second track off the album, “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene” (which had a hint of influence from the Black Keys to me). At this point in the album, however, you might already have the feeling of, “Okay, I got that he can do powerful R&B and soul, but is this really the sound for the entire album?”
Hozier switches it up a bit and finally shows a softer bluesy side in “Jackie and Wilson,” with an asymmetric rhythm and feel. “From Eden,” the 6th track off the album, other than having incredible lyrics that reference a lil bit of Satan (“I slithered in from Eden”) has the oddest sound of the entire album in my opinion. Start a song off with some cello and guitar, and just a voice resonating “Babe,” and it just is too soulful. It sounds like you’re listening to a lullaby when you first start off. The lyrics come in, and the symbiotic relationship that the cello, guitar, and drums play off each other, and although the song loses its lullaby feel, the instrumentals alone still leave you feeling just serene and peaceful.
“Work Song,” one of the later tracks, is my favorite of the entire album simply because of the melodic hums that swell beautifully and timed claps that start off the song (This is so weird, but I swear it reminds me of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Don’t judge.) He sings this track with almost a careless croon of just walking around mournfully. I dig the style. My favorite lyric off the entire album comes from this song: “When, my, time comes around/ Lay me gently in the cold dark earth/ No grave can hold my body down/ I’ll crawl home to her.” He’s an intense guy, but an intense lover all the same, and this lyric holds it true for me.
Take a listen.
We end the album, still soulful, but much more toned down from when we started. “Cherry Wine,” the last track of the album, is the live version, and features Hozier picking at his guitar and his voice. Unlike with previous songs in the album, in which he sings it with a completely folky, blues style similar to that of the earlier track “Like Real People Do, “ Hozier sings it pure, clean, and naked of any influence. It’s the purest song of the album, and the happiest song as, in terms of tone. With sound clips of blue birds in the background and pretty guitar riffs, “Cherry Wine” ends the album on a happier, more serendipitous note than the intense, tormented sound of “Take Me to Church” in the beginning.
If ya like Van Morrison, if you like The Black Keys, and if ya like some bluesy soul, grab a copy.
Where to get it: http://www.myplaydirect.com/hozier
Overall? Obviously, I’m obsessed for a reason. There’s hints of the Gospel/choral influences in almost every track, and I thank it for it. Although his soulful, bluesy riffs are beautiful, they can be a bit intense, and the heavy content of his lyricism is nicely off put by the heart lifting melodic swells. Additional to that, it seems to add to the holy atmosphere he had in his sound and the love/religion obsession he has in his lyrics.
Maybe you won’t be obsessed, but I still love him for his soulful vibe. That, and the fact he followed me back on Instagram.