Hozier’s Almost – The References

What’s This Playlist All About? The Irish singer-songwriter behind massive hit “Take Me To Church” is returning after nearly five years with his sophomore album, Wasteland, Baby!, out March 1. In anticipation of the release, he has just dropped buoyant folk-pop single “Almost (“Sweet Music),” his “dedication to some of the greatest musicians of our time.” This mix features the tracks referenced throughout the song.

What You Get: A whole lot of old-timey icons, starting with the Queen of Jazz herself, Ella Fitzgerald, with moody classics like “Night and Day” and raw bursts of passion like a live rendition of “It’s All Right With Me.” Swing masters Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong also come charging through with “Dancing in the Dark” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” along with Ray Charles in his jauntiest (“Let the Good Time Roll”) and saddest moments (“Am I Blue”).

Best Pick: John Coltrane’s four-part jazz suite A Love Supreme, a challenging, haunting, majestic must-listen.

Should Hozier Just Go Jazz or What? Probably not, and we don’t think he plans to—“Almost” is simply a sweet ode to the masters. Hozier remains best at his own style of bluesy, devotional rock, which is even better alongside Mavis Staples on Wasteland, Baby’s leading track “Nina Cried Power.”