Hozier - From Eden EP

Hozier’s second EP is powerfully redemptive and brutal.

Additional Info

9.0

ALBUM: From Eden EP

ARTIST: Hozier

2014

Alternative

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.”

1. From Eden
With higher notes and an upbeat tone, this track has a misleadingly festive tone. It’s an intriguing contradiction to the subject matter Hozier sings about. The chorus begins, “Honey, you’re familiar like my mirror years ago,” and later, “Innocence died screaming, honey ask me I should know. I slithered here from Eden just to sit outside your door.” The juxtaposition reveals Hozier’s thoughtful writing. Hozier’s lifted punchier voice fits comfortably in the most pop-like track of the album.8.5
2. Work Song
Humming and a clapping drum create the slowing cadence of this track. Set on a walking pace, Hozier’s voice opens up to sound more soulful and more drawn-out. This is one of the strongest, heartbreaking tracks of the EP.9.5
3. Arsonist’s Lullabye
Opening with a more shadowy hum, this track paints a mystical, remote place. The drum is the heartbeat of this song, pounding forward as Hozier sings with a withdrawn, but enchanting march. “When I was a child, I’d sit for hours staring into open flames. Something in it had a power,” Hozier forewarns. This track does a solid job evoking an inconsolable and desolate place and extends well from “Work Song,” but offers a spunkier lore.9.0
4. To Be Alone (Live)
As mentioned earlier, there’s no difference in clarity and crispness from the live track of the album and the studio-recorded tracks. “To Be Alone” is a meandering track and has the most bluesy composition out of the other tracks. “To Be Alone” signals an admonition and a yearning of a masochistic desire. The track begins, “Never feel too good in crowds with folks around when they’re playing the anthems of rape culture loud.” Referencing today’s rape culture adds to the darkness and grittiness of the track, but is a topic that’s obscured by the twisting lyrics in the remainder of the track. Alongside his guitar, Hozier comes back with a shrieking moan, giving the guitar both the voice of its mechanics, and his own voice tuned to the guitar’s dark stepping.9.0
Denver transplant Jenifer Park roll tides at the University of Alabama for her MFA in poetry.

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