I struggled with the idea of writing a piece on Hozier (born: Andrew Hozier-Byrne) since I’m not exactly “spilling the beans” on the chart-topper. But as much as I tried to veer off the path of a piece on the Irish singer, I found myself magnetically drawn back to his self-titled debut album, which released this month.
In a world engrossed with celebrity gossip and glossed-over images of the world around us, I find it refreshing to cut the shit and expose the beautiful filth of reality. Combining lyrics that unmask raw emotion and human impulsivity while purging honesty and exposing us to a humane judgment – the experience of this album is both a weekend bender and a detox in one.
Yes, we’ve all heard “Take Me To Church,” and rightfully so. This blatantly honest love song, albeit bordering on obsession, is modern-day romantic folklore. “She’s the giggle at a funeral. Knows everybody’s disapproval. I should’ve worshiped her sooner.” His infatuation for this woman, who mocks reserved silences and politically corrected-ness, is nothing short of legendary. I felt like he almost ‘drank the Kool-Aid’ as the song went on, diving deeper into his commitment toward her, “My lover’s the sunlight. To keep the Goddess on my side, she demands a sacrifice.” It’s the ultimate tragedy, surrounded by a blinded love. And it’s creepy, almost, until you think about how many other artists discuss their own unhealthy obsessions; finding someone exactly like this person, not being able to live either with this person or without them… songs like this prove that we’re all kind of ass-hats when we’re in love.
The rest of the album presents itself with similar religious/folkloric romanticism, drawing comparisons to biblical events including the Fall of Adam in the song “From Eden.” Here, Hozier continues his cult-like love affair with his muse in lyrics like, “There’s something tragic about you, something so magic about you. Don’t you agree?” following up with a promise to “slither down from Eden,” to get to her. In one swoop, he identifies himself as the serpent come to tempt his ill-fated and fragile Eve. It’s not only an admittance of both party’s imperfection, but also a praise of two flawed people finding one another.
The song “In a Week,” which is a grotesquely descriptive tune about a couple so intoxicated with one another that they’ve allowed the Earth to take them back, thus creating an eerily romantic yet realist look at spending eternity with someone.
“Work Song” is a mirrored look at Hozier’s admiration for imperfection, engaging in a story about his own sinful behavior lying unquestioned and forgiven as he’s taken under his ‘love’s’ wing and nursed back to health. He then clings to the common thread of the mortality in the album by claiming, “no grave can hold my body down. I’ll crawl home to her.”
Lyrics aside, Hozier is the ideal messenger with an at-times upbeat, while at others guttural in an on-the-floor-fetal-positioned voice. In “To Be Alone,” he may well have been recording from a rehab center, considering the withdrawn ache of his tone. Either way, the voice and lyrics succumb to one another in a raw, sober look at the world around each song… absorbed in the truth to each moment, and embracing it for the rarity and preciousness of it all.