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The blog post today explores a genre that I haven’t really got to explore (or had the opportunity to explore) on this blog since I have started writing. Gospel music and all the descendants and sub-genres of it are an integral part of American music, particularly of the south. Elements of this genre sometimes seek into americana and alt-country but not that often. So it is lucky that there is an Irish artist; that being Hozier, producing gospel influenced alternative melodies.

Hozier is Andrew Hozier-Byrne. Andrew was raised in Co. Wicklow and got into music at an early age. He formed his first group at the age of 15; a soul group of all things. This was an indication of his musical pursuit to come. After school, Andrew began a degree in music at Trinity College. However music quickly took centre stage as he got the opportunity to record demos with Niall Breslin (or Bressie to most people). After this he left the theory behind to peruse the music. While at Trinity, Andrew got involved with the Trinity Orchestra, which has become a popular outfit on the circuit here in Ireland. He sang lead vocals with the orchestra who do a lot of classical reinterpretations of modern songs. They did a Pink Floyd concert recently for example. Andrew has kept himself busy outside of the orchestra featuring as a member in no less that three other projects including a choir (Anúna), a soul-funk band (Zaska) and a bossa nova group (Nova Collective).

He has however now decided to concentrate on his own music and has just released his début ep “Take Me to Church”. With Andrew contributing all the writing and music himself, the project was produced with and mixed by Rob Kirwan (Delerentos, PJ Harvey). The music of Hozier has been described as 21st century blues or urban blues but that label fails to acknowledge the influence of gospel music on this ep. The opening title track is an example. With its heightened and almost shouting lyrics, the lead and atmospheric backing vocals are aptly suited to the song title. Feeling like an appeal to a higher power, the melody adds to the feeling of gospel tinged pleading.

The religious theme continues in the ep with “Angel Of Small Death & The Codeine Scene”. One instrument that, I think is essential to any gospel influenced tune is organ and it features strongly here. Beginning with a wall of voices, the song bursts into life with a steady gospel style rhythm that eventually burst into guitar led vitality.

The ep will be launched appropriately at the Unitarian church in Dublin on September 10th. You can check out Hozier’s official site for more information on gigs and the like. You can get the ep free or at a price of your choosing on Bandcamp. Don’t forget the Facebook too.

Photo: Facebook.com



  1. // Reply

    I agree. I think big things are coming Hozier's way. I didn't even think the songs would be as successful on its release. Fair play to him

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