Written by Stacey Lovett
In flew a Jade Bird clad in carnelian – a songstress who singlehandedly blew everyone away with her voice, guitar, and charisma. Bird sings an enduring message harnessing the roots of her power-folk influence and adds to the feminine power rising up in music. She presents herself in her element – an authentic soul wailing out her emotions on her guitar, balancing out her pure message with interludes of her jovial character in a simple “Cheers!” or a witty quip on a song’s origins adding to the fiery energy of her one-woman set. She plays the warm notes of revival, of a voice, of the power of expression and reawakening of folk & femininity bridging the UK & US. The respect and wild applause one woman and her guitar earned in the span of a 30-minute set prove hope for change and power towards hope.
When Hozier came onto the mainstream music scene in 2013 he was that change. This young artist revolutionized portraying ‘mind’ back into the body of popular music, writing the poetry of a new era and lending the yin of his feminine energy to the yang of his deep-rooted Irish allure unafraid to take an active stance against social issues both lyrically and through his own activism. When the spread of the social climate brings swords, Hozier addresses it with power. He came in on a breeze harnessing it on his debut album, now, Wasteland, Baby! is a fierce wind of destruction transmitting it against the oppression both within and outside. His band supported him in reinforcing this participation of power – the heavy bass drumbeat served as the heartbeat of the poetic body pouring out truthful soul and the sold-out crowd at ACL’s Moody Theater returned that love.
As a learned musician, he draws in the same powerful voice named in his single, as a lyricist, he draws back to his roots and those who lent their influence to cultivating his own prose. It’s in the gentle build of power of this old soul where he ties it all together into verses laden with Joycean tones flowing with the bluesy influences that enrich the emotion and stream our own consciousness with their weight and timeless power. Even his older tunes were adapted to this matured persona – and I feel this adaptation to the times transcends the ego of an individual musician to unite a universal spirit and change the landscape of humanity; Hozier’s voice – his collective – stands a driving force in mainstream music and lends to excelling into a universal harmonized voice. The outpouring of love from the audience – the “I love you’s’ and the flowers thrown – were not just in reverence to the man & the artist on stage, but to a deep-rooted appreciation and admiration of a new voice. And where that voice could no longer emit any more emotion his guitar picked up and continued the passion unsung alongside. Hozier continues to embrace the darker imagery in his new songs as metaphors sung against a modern backdrop of uncertainty and unease – the collective stands its power in it all through his body of work, in his connection with listeners and again in his collaboration with the strength of the seven other musicians on stage manifesting the moment and creating a visceral experience second to none to his lyrical genius. This light, this rising, is Hozier’s gospel of what cries power and if love is that power then Austin joined forces that night in the threshold of feeling the future.