Hozier – Self-Titled
Columbia Records
-out tomorrow
4.5 / 5

Andrew Hozier-Byrne, the Irish soul singer/guitarist known simply as Hozier, is one of those rare acts who translates so well into studio and live and back. (Check out our much, much too brief blurb at the Newport Folk Festival.) It’s talent, pure and simple, that it boils down to, but more than that: the man can make a song about the infidelity of the heart bouncy and singable. His color reminds us a lot of the late band Morphine – dark, a bit smoky, somber – but at any turn, he can pull out such a playful sexiness that makes listening to his first full-length deep, brooding pleasure.

That song about infidelity, “Someone New,” is sway-about, close-sweaty-dancing, infectiously-chorused in the way that we like our rock. Groovy, simply put. And yet, how does a singer turn around with a yearning ballad about decomposing together with your lover, “In a Week”? Dark, yes. These songs are finely crafted, but more than that, it comes down to the howl of a voice at Hozier’s command: deep, throaty without the scratchiness, passionate and compassionate. It’s hard for us to pull just one single off this album that’s representative of the whole, but we can make two suggestions: run by the rockin’ playfulness of “Jackie and Wilson.” Let it get into your bones, feel that foot tap. Second suggestion: rinse, repeat. Seriously.

One of the most pleasurable debuts we’ve come across in a long time. (And every bit as stunning live.) Highly recommended.

Watch “Jackie and Wilson” on YouTube.

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