Andrew Byrne-Hozier, the Irish folky blues singer-songwriter has released his first album. The self-titled compilation strings together a bunch of singles released by Hozier over the past few years. The 24 year-old’s voice tells a story, and his mature yet mesmeric melodies on tracks such as Take Me To Church reflect vocals that have seen twice as many years.
Hozier is in danger of steering away from his Irish folk-singer roots in order to compete with pop songs that usually take top place in the charts, however he appears not to let go of the trills and mysterious minor chords that are so prominent in typical Irish folk-blues. In A Week exemplifies this, and Hozier’s heavenly harmonies with the featuring Karen Cowley, lead singer of Irish band Wyvern Lingo, resembles a partnership similar to that of a sober version of The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl in Rum, Sodomy & The Lash.
The record is not consistently soft and cosy. Hozier manages to infuse his pensive rawness into more upbeat tracks such as Jackie and Wilson, showing a hint of rocky-pop that will help him climb the mainstream ladder. Seeing this, it is hard to avoid the assumption that this release is an experiment rather than an assertion; with a range of tracks as wide as his range of vocals, Hozier covers a lot of ground in this album. His fluid transition from powerful, chesty notes to falsetto pitch is attractive for those who want a relaxing day and are in need of aural soothing.
On the surface, Hozier’s production is somewhat simplistic to the naked ear, but his lyrics are poetic and riddled with meaning, which makes it all the more special. Take Me To Church evaluates a relationship burned down by fundamental religious dogma, and the haunting melody and bellowing screams in the pre-chorus and chorus would make an atheist believe the heavens were appearing through the clouds. Work Song follows suit, with Hozier building up layers slowly as the song progresses, beginning with simple bass and humming, before throwing in melodic caramels that will stop Hozier being ‘background music’ and make you turn the volume up.
For a debut album, Hozier will undoubtedly be hugely popular. With influences from Irish folk, Elton John-esque chorus melodies and wondrous lyrics, the record will attract both catchy-pop seekers as well as those who want to put their feet up and listen carefully. At the age of 24, Hozier’s voice is compellingly mature, and this debut release shows off his plethora of abilities. Rustic, organic and intriguing, he is one to watch for the future. Get a copy of this beauty before it’s number one.
Favourite track: Work Song
For more from Impact Music, check us out on Twitter