ALBUM: From Eden EP
Under the moniker “Hozier,” Irish singer-songwriter and guitarist Andrew Hozier-Byrne has created a compact, but powerful repertoire of ardent and raptured tracks. His second EP, From Eden, continues the sound developed in his first EP, Take Me Out (2013) —a heartfelt patchwork of blues, soul, gospel, and folk. As the son of a Dublin-based blues musician, Hozier grew up listening to the blues. From 2009-2012, Hozier was a member of the Irish choral ensemble, Anúna, touring the world to hone in on his choral training. His 2013 hit, “Take Me to Church,” created more than enough buzz to keep Hozier on the plane of artists modernizing the iconic sounds of blues, soul, and gospel music. Hozier’s patchwork of these genres is particularly effective because it pulls from the most emotive and concurrently most fundamental elements of blues, soul, and gospel. He uses the pain of blues, the wrenching vocals of soul, and the ominousness of congregational singing. Underlying Hozier’s sound are the stories each track unfolds. Borrowing the narrative style of folk music, he creates a mythos that, though antiquated and rusted-over, surges out sharply.
Hozier’s songwriting is particularly adept. Noting influences from “Tom Waits, or anyone from Paul Simon to Muddy Waters,” Hozier writes with a wisdom that is worldly, intimate, and spiritual. It’s a penetrating lyricism. Hozier is a natural storyteller. He wields his words so well, the listener, imbibed by the beautiful mysticism of the tale, can’t tell if the story is about herself or the storyteller or some legendary stranger. In the ambiguity, Hozier spellbinds the listener. It’s contemplative, but also instigative. Both subdued and freeing. In “Work Song,” Hozier sings, “That’s when my baby found me. I was three days on a drunken sin. I woke with her walls around me. Nothin’ in her room but an empty crib.” In the title track, “From Eden,” Hozier sings, “A rope in hand for your other man to hang from a tree.” Hozier’s slips in the tragic as effortlessly as a wink or an unseen grin.
Carrying his songwriting is his triumphant voice. It’s grand and rustic. It’s a voice you’d find easily in an amphitheater or on the sidewalk next to a café. With his heartfelt, dynamic voice, each suspended note is a stone slung into the air. Hozier’s deep, large voice is comforting in its unassuming tone, but also impressive in its range and depth. It’s a voice that carries a girth that’s filling and feeling. Hozier voice equates so well with his songwriting, that they act as each other’s mirrors. His voice is sturdy enough to carry the emotion of each sentiment without buckling under the duress. It’s luminous enough to rouse curiosity in each unfolding story. His voice modulates according to each line. This is all to say he is as equally talented in singing as he is at penning his songs.
Each track in From Eden is distinct, showcasing and extending Hozier’s abilities. The album opens with the most “upbeat” track, featuring Hozier’s bouncier, lighter vocal textures. The album proceeds by splaying itself open in order to drench itself in grittier, broader tones Similar to his first EP, Hozier ends From Eden with a live track. His voice and musicianship doesn’t waver at all in this live track. In all tracks, Hozier sits you in front of him to wring out your heart. He sings to bring you closer to him, but there’s something painful and dark about these tracks that if you were to get close enough to Hozier, you may burn yourself. It’s a beautiful problem. From Eden is a solid continuation of Hozier’s sound. His first full-length is expected to release early this September and will be well worth the wait.
“There’s something so wretched about this, something so precious about this.”