Hozier, the 24-year-old Irish voice behind gorgeous hit “Take Me to Church,” recently released his debut self-titled LP. Perhaps following in a direct lineage from Sister Rosetta Tharpe all the way to Adele, Hozier’s soulful sound mixes with several genres including rock, jazz, and folk, making for a dynamic, fresh debut.
The album is practically without flaws, but the first three tracks take the cake. First track and single “Take Me to Church” is immediately engaging, pulling the listener in with little more than Hozier’s voice and his stunning lyric work — My lover’s got humor/ She’s the giggle at a funeral/ Knows everybody’s disapproval/ I should’ve worshipped her sooner. From the empty lyrics — nothing but vocals and a piano refrain — the song bursts into a strong but not overwhelming chorus. Second track “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene” begins with a playful take on rhythm, building itself slowly and carefully, making the audience listen close until the beat finally comes in. There’s a blues vibe to it, harkening back to older sounds and vibes. The song sounds open and echo-y, as if it is sung in a church. The guitar riffs are delightful, the syncopated rhythm exciting, and Hozier’s rich voice is just the icing on top. Next up, “Jackie and Wilson” takes on a full-blown blues guitar refrain with warm, full rock vocals. The cheeky rhythm to the chorus adds a cool vibe to the track, one of the most danceable on the album.
And white the rock and blues tracks bring the fun, songs like “Like Real People Do” and “In a Week” take on a more folk tone, reminiscent of City and Colour with bare acoustic guitar and soothing vocals. They sit nicely next to the blues music, adding a stunning glaze and polish to the overall album. The entire album is warm and inviting — perfect for fall, to be honest, with the rich acoustic sentiments and honey smooth vocals — and every song has a deeper, dark twist to it, adding to the many layers of complexity this album endeavors to take on.
Hozier is a brilliant debut for Hozier. He’s certainly an artist to keep an eye on with his intricate knowledge of not just how to write a song or an album, but how to design a song or an album. The construction of each song is impeccable, building up to a thoughtful and deliberate album.