Hozier – Hozier

Hozier

Cover for Hozier’s self-titled debut full-length album.

The first time I heard Hozier‘s debut single Take Me To Church, I knew it was an event. Coupled with a music video that depicts violent homophobia in modern-day Russia and its use of religious imagery on sex, the song was bound to turn some heads and be either praised or slammed. There was little room for any middle ground.

Hozier’s background as an Irish songwriter likely played a role in the inclusion of religion on his debut self-titled album. While the album isn’t centred around religion or Christianity, he loosely references it, mostly in passing, throughout the record. His jaded perspective may not be to everyone’s liking but it’s hard to ignore his performance on what has become one of the year’s most highly anticipated albums.

Hozier doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder though. He’s hardly a one-topic-wonder hell bent on bringing down the Church. But he does bring down the church with vocals and songwriting that can immediately attract and maintain the attention of even the strongest of believers.

His sound centres around blues and soul often packaged in a more easily digestible format that can allow for mainstream success – which is inevitable. Take Me To Church isn’t particularly made-for-radio but there are tracks on here that might be, mainly Someone New, which is built around a refrain that is both catchy and easy to sing along to.

Hozier’s lyrics contain a lot of imagery, romancing the cold, the dark, graves, and death, when singing about love and lust. He takes a dark approach to situations and relationships, playing with the devil but remaining in control.

The duet In A Week, with Irish singer/songwriter Karen Cowley, is a morbidly romantic take on love about corpses dying together above ground in the fields, which is particularly interesting considering the number of times Hozier sings about digging or being buried elsewhere on the album.

They’d find us in a week
when the buzzards get loud
after the insects have made their claim
after the foxes have known our taste
after the raven has had its say
I’d be home with you

It’s a sinister highlight on an album that explores life, death and love with a confidence that only someone who doesn’t fear any of these can have.

Hozier’s approach and delivery is one that makes him so fascinating for a musical newcomer and he has a voice so captivating that, love it or hate it, it’s already got your attention.
Four stars

Tracklisting
1. Take Me To Church
2. Angel Of Small Death & The Codeine Scene
3. Jackie And Wilson
4. Someone New
5. To Be Alone
6. From Eden
7. In A Week [featuring Karen Cowley]
8. Sedated
9. Work Song
10. Like Real People Do
11. It Will Come Back
12. Foreigner’s God
13. Cherry Wine (Live)

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