To Be Alone
Label: Universal-Island Records Ltd.
Like fellow Irish artists Van Morrison and Sinead O'Connor, Andrew Hozier-Byrne conflates the sacred and profane. On the singer-songwriter's impressive debut, gospel, blues, folk-rock and church music are transformed into haunted ballads suffused with the solemnity of choir voices in an empty cathedral. At the same time, Hozier's lyrics meditate upon the carnal. In "Take Me to Church," heaven is found not at Sunday service, but rather blasphemously in a lover's arms. Meanwhile, in "Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene," the pleasures of the flesh are framed as religious sacraments.