Best of the B Sides: “It Will Come Back”

I really cannot stop listening to Hozier. His debut album is a beacon of elegance, grace, and poetry. From track one to the end, there isn’t a single dull moment or misguided song. It’s got fairly universal appeal as it extends through rock, jazz, folk, gospel, and blues traditions. An eclectic mix, to be sure, but Hozier has the skills to make it work.

Of course, “Take Me to Church” is the song that got him noticed and “Jackie and Wilson” quickly became a favorite as soon as the album dropped. There are countless other tracks deserving of attention, so it’s difficult for me to choose a b side this week. My favorite b sides of the album include “From Eden” “In a Week,” and “It Will Come Back.”

“It Will Come Back” combines the aforementioned blues and folk traditions. I was chatting about Hozier with our very own Sam this week and she brought up an astonishing point about this song: “Many of his songs can easily stand alone as complex poems because of his strong songwriting ability. I am so surprised by ‘It Will Come Back’ and I cannot stop listening to it. It’s almost ‘The Flea’ by John Donne but without any of the coyness. It’s like what happens after that poem.”

The lyrics for “It Will Come Back” are easily the most arresting on the album: I can’t be unlearned/ I’ve known the warmth of your doorways/ Through the cold, I’ll find my way back to you/ Oh please, give me mercy no more/ That’s a kindness you can’t afford. Throughout the album, Hozier’s lyric play is formidable, weaving complicated images and feelings together effortlessly. “It Will Come Back” punctuates the more poignant lyrics at the end of each line.

Also, can I just mention that the complete sound of this song is built from the three instruments in the video above and nothing else? Slide guitar, cello, and drums. It’s hard to say that slide guitar has been terribly popular in popular music these days. It’s got an old sound, a bluesy sound that hasn’t been terribly prominent as of late. I wasn’t just joking when I said he was hailing back to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, one of the unquestionable and sadly forgotten rebels of music history. Sister Tharpe combined gospel with a slide guitar in the 30s and 40s, something that’s kind of radical now, so just imagine what it meant back then! Whether Hozier’s aware of it or not, his skills harken back to Sister Tharpe, combining his either slightly sacred or slightly profane lyrics with blues guitar.

I feel about Hozier the same way I feel about Haim. I listen to the music, I love it, but then I watch them play and I am astonished by their talent. In this video, seeing Hozier actually play his guitar is enchanting. He really is the full package. An excellent songwriter, lyricist, and musician. Where has he been hiding all this time?

1 Comment

  1. Lauren Silvestri

    November 23, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    WOW I love this! It’s so hauntingly beautiful and kind of gothic.

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