Got the Christmas Blues? Here’s a beautiful new take on a favorite old carol

Andrew Hozier-Byrne grew up near Dublin and unlikely though it sounds for an Irishman, his father was a blues musician. Evidently a chip off the old black, Andrew was already in a band by the time he was 15. He enrolled at Trinity College as a music major and was part of the university’s orchestra. However, he dropped out after less than a year, but it was for a good cause: recording demos for Universal Records. Around this time, he was also part of the choral group Anuna, touring internationally with them and appearing as a soloist on their 2012 album “Illumination.”

In 2013, Hozier (he’s best known by just the one name) was struggling, but didn’t give up, frequenting open mic nights in the Dublin area. After a bad breakup, Hozier wrote the song “Take Me to Church,” and recorded a rough demo of it. “The vocals were recorded in my attic at two o’clock in the morning. So it’s a real homemade job.” Rough though it was, the recording caught the attention of an independent record label. They dubbed in instrumentation but the original vocal recording was so good, they decided to keep it. The song was a huge hit, selling millions of copies around the world. His career was launched!

When Hozier set out to pick a Christmas song to perform, he was looking for something that would fit with his bluesy, soulful roots. Surprisingly, he chose one of the oldest Christmas carols out there, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” It goes all the way back to at least the 1500s, and possibly earlier. As you’ll see — or hear — in the music video we’ve posted below, the blues bass line and backup vocals along with his own silky smooth voice made for a memorable new version of the old carol.

Impressed by this Irish bluesman’s take on a time-honored Christmas carol? Let’s hear from you in the Facebook comments. Be sure to like and share!