When I first stumbled upon Hozier in BRIP’s February Indie/Rock Playlist I had a George Ezra moment. A George Ezra moment is a term that my friends and I often use when we listen to a particular artist and get the completely incorrect image of how they look and how old they are. For instance, upon listening to George Ezra, I thought he was some 50 year-old blues singer when in-fact he is in his early 20’s and has one of the most beautiful voices in the world. The same thing happened with Hozier. He sounds like he stumbled out of a 1920’s New Orleans jazz band with smoky blue-styled vocals that sensually wrap their voluptuous bodies around your auditory canal and gently caresses it. Except, Hozier is a 24 year old Irish singer-songwriter and Hozier is his debut album.
Hozier may sound like he stumbled out of the annuals of history, but his songs reflects pressing issues in society. For instance, his lead single off Hozier is a commentary on religious intolerance, but references the act of love making and the ecstasy induced by it. Perhaps one of the most glaring comments is made by the music video which demonstrates how incredibly homophobic most religious systems are. Lyrics like “I was born sick, but I love it / command me to be well / Amen. Amen. Amen” also reflects such sentiments.
While Hozier makes such social commentaries, his music also adopts a very blues-like sound as it often references sexual imagery. Whether that imagery is intentional or simply just innuendo is something we will never know. Nevertheless, there is a sultry and sexual aspect to the sound of Hozier’s music. This is felt in the grooving bass lines and the catchy and almost vivacious guitar riffs that tease with your senses, but never truly commit to any type of action. In way, the riffs are a bit like that girl (or guy) you spend the entire evening buying drinks for, but then half-way through the evening they vanish and you’re left with an empty wallet and a throbbing headache the next day.
Songs like “Jackie and Wilson” have an upbeat feeling to them. The bass is grooving, the guitar riffs are catchy, and Hozier’s voice croons through in a soulful fashion. This is fitting seeing as the song is a nod towards the soul singer Jackie Wilson. Progress further into the record and you’re greeted with numerous occasions of incredibly upbeat and almost blues-rock styled songs. “Someone New” smoothly handles the narrative of a man who can’t stay with one woman and seems to remain in perpetual circle of constant one night stands.
However, Hozier has his moments of conjuring up mournful sounding songs. They came at you from behind simplistic and mournful sounding instrumentals. “To Be Alone” is fittingly mournful seeing as it deals with unrequited love. It is a sensual song from which Hozier’s passion and energy infectiously oozes into a melting pot of emotions. “In A Week”, his duet with Karen Cowly, is as equally mournful and Cowly’s vocals add to the mournful atmosphere of the song.
There is no denying it, Hozier has created something truly beautiful with his self-titled debut album. Hozier is a tremendous offering of raw energy and blatantly sexual imagery and sounds. In an age where the true meaning of blues has almost been lost due, Hozier serves as a saving grace for a dying genre. One could not ask for a stronger album with which to begin their career.