The Bluesy LP That’s Taking the World by Storm
Grammy award nominee Hozier is in no way a one-hit-wonder. His thirteen-track album has changed the game for the blues-rock genre.
Over a year ago, the black and white video for the global rock hit “Take Me to Church” was posted to Irish musician Hozier’s YouTube channel. Today, that video has over 96 million views. The 24-year-old, who has no previous history in the music charts, has stayed in Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs charts for 40 weeks with a peak position at number one.
In Oct 2014, Hozier released his debut 13-track album with Rubyworks/Island Records. Regarding the sound of his album, Hozier told The Telegraph, a news outlet based in the UK, “Whatever it is, it’s not pop music.”
The self-titled album, Hozier, is a balance between slow, sweet ballads and more upbeat rock songs. One of the faster-paced songs, “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,” has a mysterious tone, which is enhanced especially by the organ playing in the bridge of the track.
The song that follows, “Jackie and Wilson,” represents the bluesy aspect of the album. In fact, the lyrics mention Hozier’s love for R&B, explaining that when he has children he’ll “raise ‘em on rhythm and blues.”
His vocal strength is perfectly represented in, “From Eden,” which was released as the fourth single from Hozier. Not only does it include gospel singing, but it features multiple instruments playing harmoniously, which then lead to a solo guitar section. At one point, all of the music pauses abruptly and the listener is left hearing Hozier’s melodic voice echoing, until the song picks up again.
The next track on the album is titled “In a Week” and, by some critics, it has been interpreted as a murder ballad, which used to be popular in country music. According to an interview he did with Radio.com, a site that features up-to-date music news, Hozier explains that this song is whatever the listener wants it to be. The lyrics discuss the peacefulness a soul might feel after death and Hozier clarifies that “‘In a Week’ … could be a suicide ballad or it could just be a gentle reflection on mortality.”
The second to last track on Hozier, “Foreigner’s God,” is different from the rest of the album: it focuses on a different concept. An almost painful edge can be sensed in the vocal component of the song and the grief that the lyrics hint at can be felt in the gentle playing of piano and violin in the background.
In his YouTube “Track by Track” series, Hozier elucidates that this song was one of the last ones he wrote for the album. He explains that, though the meaning of “Foreigner’s God” is difficult for him to put into words, it’s meant to recreate how one might “[feel] alien in a culture … [and feel] distance from [his] own cultural values.”
Due to his recent success in the charts, Hozier performed at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, where “Take Me to Church” was nominated for song of the year.