THE GREAT DIVIDE南轅北轍

Hozier harks back to the visceral sound of 1960s activism. By TIM PRITCHARD

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Hozier再度唱出1960年代民運思潮的肺腑之聲。撰文: Tim Pritchard

‘IT’S NOT THE waking, it’s the rising,’ sings Irish musician Andrew Hozier-Byrne – known to fans as Hozier – in the opening line of Nina Cried Power, the first track from his new four-song EP of the same name.

Hozier’s new work is inspired by the American civil rights movement of the 1960s and the anthems it gave rise to from the likes of the eponymous Nina Simone, Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples. Nina Cried Power is an urgent, passionate plea to action: ‘It’s not the song, it is the singing. It’s the hearing of a human spirit ringing.’

There’s gravity and grandeur from a gospel choir – and vocals from the now 79-year-old Staples herself. Her voice adds a powerful dimension to the track, both symbolically in addressing issues of power, injustice and division, and musically, complementing the soulful production.

As with his most famous hit, Take Me to Church (Spotify’s most streamed song of 2014 with 87 million listens), Hozier’s music is often best when the emotions are dialled up high and he’s prodding at the scab of uncomfortable truths.

Elsewhere, NFWMB conjures a nightmarish scene straight out of Yeats’ apocalyptic poem The Second Coming, accompanied by Hozier’s folksy acoustic guitar. Channelling his country’s most revered poet, the Irish musician evokes a sense of fear as the narrator lashes out at the base world around him.

Hozier displays his bluesy chops on Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue), a classic hip-shaking number complete with handclaps and a twangy lead guitar that revels in carnal pleasures while chastising religious hypocrisy – a common refrain for the Take Me to Church singer.

Album closer Shrike is a sweet acoustic number that has echoes of indie folkster Bon Iver and the godfather of contemporary Celtic music, Van Morrison.

Hozier isn’t the only artist to channel the music of a time when the space dividing conservatives and reformers was at its most toxic. But few have done it as sweetly. The EP gives a glimpse of the direction his next full-length record may take when it’s released later this year.

「這不是醒覺,而是崛起。」人稱 Hozier 的愛爾蘭音樂人 Andrew Hozier-Byrne,在其新歌〈Nina Cried Power〉中如此唱道。這也是其收錄了四首新作的同名細碟內的第一首歌。

Hozier的新作受1960年代美國民權運動,以及出自那個時代的歌手如 Nina Simone、Bob Dylan和 Mavis Staples等的歌曲所啟發,以迫切而激昂的歌曲促請大眾坐言起行:「重點不在歌曲,而在歌聲,你可以聽見人文精神的迴響。」

作品中有福音合唱團的莊嚴與華麗,也有年屆79歲的 Mavis Staples 親身獻唱,她的聲音為歌曲注入力量,在象徵的層面上探討權力、不公義和分歧等議題,在音樂上則令這首充滿深情的歌曲更飽滿。

Hozier最出色的音樂,就跟他最受歡迎、於2014年在Spotify播放次數最高( 8,700萬次)的大熱歌曲〈Take Me to Church〉一樣,往往都是情緒高昂,將令人不安的真相挑出來,展示人前。

至於〈NFWMB〉則將詩人Yeats 的末世詩歌《The Second Coming》配上民謠色彩的木結他旋律,將詩中惡夢般的情景活靈活現地呈現出來。這位愛爾蘭音樂人透過歌曲與其祖國最受尊崇的詩人通靈,把他從陰間召喚出來,透過詩中的敘述者釋放出對周遭不仁世界的恐懼感。

Hozier在〈Moment’sSilence (Common Tongue)〉這首歌中展示他的藍調技巧,令人不禁隨著音樂搖擺,加上拍掌聲以及主音結他的撥弦聲,感覺有如沉醉於肉慾的歡愉,

同時又痛斥宗教的偽善,這是Hozier 作品中常見的另一個主題。

專輯的最後一首歌〈Shrike〉是首清新的原聲樂曲,帶有獨立民謠歌手Bon Iver和當代凱爾特音樂之父 Van Morrison 的韻味。

Hozier並非唯一一位在保守派和改革派分歧激烈下,創作出具時代性音樂的歌手,但卻很少人創作出如此悅耳的音樂。這張細碟亦讓我們窺見他於今年稍後推出的大碟的創作方向。

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