It’s not often that you stumble across a songwriter whose lyrics both sound and read like poetry. When those lyrics are set to music that balances burning indignation with lilting tenderness, and delivered in a voice imbued with the spiritual passion and yearning of gospel and the blues, you figure you’ve chanced upon something special. And so it is with 23-year-old Andrew Hozier-Byrne, an Irish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from County Wicklow who goes by the name of Hozier.
Raised in a musical family, and briefly student of music at Trinity College Dublin, Hozier’s childhood and adolescent listening was dominated, he says, “by Chicago blues, Texan Chess Records, Motown, and then I discovered jazz, but more importantly, Delta blues – that extraordinarily haunting sound. Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson, people like that. Later, it was Pink Floyd, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, plus Tom Waits was a huge, huge influence. I was always drawn to singers with something haunting about their voices. The same goes for writers such as James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. You can’t define waht it is, but it buries itself deep in your soul.”
Not surprisingly, lyrics matter hugely to Hozier. “For me, they are one of, if not the most, important, factors in a song. That’s where the story is, and writer or should be. I can be bit critical when I listen to other people’s songs – I will either be sold on something or it’ll dead to me, depending on the lyrics. They are still the thing I feel most self-conscious about; you know, , ‘Am I saying something worthwhile here?’”