Wasting no time with pleasantries, Andrew Hozier-Byrne gets straight to business on his debut album, ensuring the viral hit ‘Take Me To Church’ draws you in from its opening piano chords.
Taken without its affecting video, which references the persecution of the LGBT community in Russia, its gospel-infused consideration of sin is still haunting. He’s similarly evangelical in ‘Angel Of Small Death And The Codeine Scene’, where handclaps and a booming bass drum propel the choir.
His voice, more poitín-sweetened than whiskey-soaked, caresses delicate melodies and rougher rhythms alike with confidence – it lingers compellingly in the creeping blues of ‘To Be Alone’, whispers prettily in the folky ‘Like Real People Do’, and preaches fervently in the ragged R&B of ‘Jackie And Wilson’.
The Irishman’s storytelling is suitably fluid, relying on the realism of true romance rather than affecting any impoverished Delta designs. As a result, ‘Hozier’ is an authentic portrait of an artist – soulful, spiritual and seductive – and is a deeply impressive first step.
Words: Simon Harper
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Listen to ‘Hozier’ in full via Deezer, below…