Irishman Hozier is no stranger, his breakthrough single - the exquisite 'Take Me To Church' - proving quite the hit with the British public last year. His self-titled major label debut holds much of the promise of that remarkable song; mixing blues, folk, gospel and jazz, this beautiful collection of songs showcase this young man's considerable talent.
With a deep, rich baritone that sits somewhere in between Robert Plant and Chris Cornell, Andrew Hozier-Byrne uses his debut to showcase his range and strengths. The gospel-infused 'Angel Of Small Death & The Codeine Scene', the indie funk 'Jackie And Wilson', both demonstrate the singer's evident love of American blues and R&B. Where Hozier really shines, however, are with the dark, murky 'love' songs. And this is no more apparent than in the ubiquitous 'Take Me To Church', where the protagonist equates sexual passion to worshipping God: "My Church offers no absolutes / She tells me, 'Worship in the bedroom' / The only heaven I'll be sent / Is when I'm alone with you." The result is both exhilarating and haunting. 'To Be Alone' is a dark, bluesy number evoking the dangerous and seductive power of love (or is it lust?), Hozier's incredible voice ringing as deep as a bell - "God it feels good, it feels good / Oh to be alone with you" - while there is a lovely Temple Of the Dog influence with 'In A Week' (with Karen Cowley guesting), the voices alone with just an echoing acoustic guitar for company.
We could go on, talking about the likes of the delightful 'Like Real People Do' and the Delta blues of 'It Will Come Back' which give his rich vocals a fitting backdrop. However, riding on the crests of that triumphant single, this impressive album should propel young Hozier even further into the arms of success without further exultations from us. Amen.