Track Teardown of Cherry Wine by Hozier
TRACK RELEASE INFORMATION –
Andrew Hozier-Byrne was born on the 17th of March 1990 in Bray, Ireland and is known professionally as Hozier within the music industry. His music largely fits the genres of an Indie Rock, Blues and Folk artist and his most well-known songs generally fit in these categories. His career kicked off when his hit single ‘Take Me to Church’ gained traction on YouTube after the title was released as part of an EP in 2013 (Flanagan, 2013). The song continued to grow eventually hitting number one on iTunes in October of the same year. Since, ‘Take Me to Church’ and Hozier have been nominated for a number of awards, some of which he won, including BBC’s song of the year in 2015 when he re-released ‘Take Me to Church’ in a new EP, and top rock song and top rock artist in the Billboard Music Awards. Since then, Hozier has been fairly quiet, appearing only the Late Late Show to perform ‘Cherry Wine’ and raising awareness for domestic abuse victims. ‘Cherry Wine (live)’ as released in the original EP in 2013 is in the key of D-flat major. This provides a melancholy and rich sound to the song and is written from the perspective of a male in an abusive relationship, with the chorus really telling this story as the lyrics “The way she tells me I’m hers and she’s mine | Open hand or closed fist would be fine. | Blood is red and sweet as cherry wine.” really show what the song is about (McGuire, 2016). Overall, ‘Cherry Wine’ is a song that I would like to emulate in a lot of acoustic songs that I mix for a friend of mine as part of some personal projects. The sound is beautiful to me and recreating something similar would definitely be an achievement.
Arrangement (Song Structure)
Using Ableton, the track was matched to its BPM (130) and each section chopped up into its individual sections. They are as follows:
- Intro (14 Bars)
- Verse 1 (12 Bars)
- Pre-Chorus 1 (6 Bars)
- Chorus 1 (10 Bars)
- Verse 2 (14 Bars)
- Pre-Chorus 2 (5 Bars)
- Chorus 2 (8 Bars)
- Breakdown (13 Bars)
- Verse 3 (12 Bars)
- Pre-Chorus (5.5 Bars)
- Chorus (9.5 Bars)
- Outro (18 Bars)
It is worth mentioning that some of these may be a little off. It was somewhat hard to identify the song’s change into each area as there is no immediate uptake in pace or elements of the track as there are only the guitar being played and Hozier’s voice within the track.
Breakdown of Instruments
The track begins with the acoustic guitar having a simple, plucked, resonating intro sequence. This introduction emulates the chords that the vocal is sung at in pitch and timbre and is basically a chorus but played on the guitar. The intro continues for 14 bars before moving into the first verse. In this area, the vocals are first introduced and sit somewhat in the middle of the mix. The artist fades his words together in a very hummy kind of way and this adds some harmonic elements to the track in the lower end of the frequency spectrum that are not present without a bass or drum line. There is also a low frequency hum and crackling white noise sound present in this area is present throughout the song. I won’t really go into any specifics for other specific areas of the song as the song is largely these 3 elements and do not change. However, after the intro some light sounds of birds can be heard fairly far back in the mix. It can be assumed from the light crackling and other lower frequency sounds that some ambience has been recorded and placed behind the guitar and vocals just to add some of the low end that the guitar and vocals don’t provide. This makes the mix sound very calm and the bird noises add a nice harmonic and creative element to the song. This is something that I tried to emulate in a song I recorded with M.D. which can be viewed here. It doesn’t sound as nice as the ambience in this song however I still like it!
Summary of the Teardown
Overall, the mix is extremely clean and nice sounding which is important in an acoustic song. As someone who loves recording this genre and area of music it is important for me to learn to create similar sounding mixes so tearing down a track like this is great.
Flanagan, A. (2013). Birth of a Buzz: Behind the Scenes as Hozier Goes Viral. Billboard. Retrieved 8 December 2017, from https://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/5748114/birth-of-a-buzz-behind-the-scenes-as-hozier-goes-viral
Hozier – Cherry Wine. (2017). Genius. Retrieved 8 December 2017, from https://genius.com/Hozier-cherry-wine-lyrics
McGuire, J. (2016). What Does Hozier’s ‘Cherry Wine’ Mean? The Newly-Released Music Video Has The Answer. Romper. Retrieved 8 December 2017, from https://www.romper.com/p/what-does-hoziers-cherry-wine-mean-the-newly-released-music-video-has-the-answer-5777