Oh, great. Another week, another singer-songwriter. Do we really need this one as well? Actually, in the case of the debut album from Ireland’s Andrew Hozier-Byrne, we most definitely do. His debut album is a warm, fantastic mix of folk, blues and gospel, a fantastic singing voice and a lyricist who knows how to use language. In a landscape dripping with cut-price David Grays and sub-James Blunts, here is someone who draws on his influences – and the highest praise I can offer is that he is the true successor to Van Morrison.
The album opens with the single ‘Take Me To Church’ that was a hit last year in Ireland, and has proved a slow-burning hit on the other side of the Irish Sea, too. Dealing with his views of the Catholic Church in Ireland (though it’s telling that when Sinead O’Connor dared to speak up she was vilified) we hear:
“If the heavens ever did speak
She’s the last true mouthpiece
Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week…
Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife.”
Each successive play of the song reveals more of his talents, yet it’s far from being the only excellent song on this LP. ‘In Eden’ another track that’s been a single, we get his guitar playing, a gospel choir and the feel of classic sixties soul: “Honey you’re familiar like my mirror years ago Idealism sits prison, chivalry fell on it’s sword Innocence died screaming, honey ask me I should know I slithered here from Eden just to sit outside your door.”
The duet with fellow Irish singer Karen Cowley ‘In A Week’ is starkly simple in its delivery and utterly beautiful.
I have no idea whether the hipsters will allow Hozier to be accepted as cool or not. Frankly, I couldn’t care. If they can’t see the strength of this record, it’s their loss.
Hozier is out now on Rubyworks/Island