Born in 1990 in the small Irish town of Bray, Andrew John Hozier-Byrne—better known as Hozier—was first heard in the company of others, contributing his preternaturally powerful voice to Ireland’s renowned Trinity Orchestra and the choral troupe Anúna. But where those early pursuits immersed him in his country’s rich musical traditions, his first single as a solo artist took aim at its most formidable institution. Few debut tracks come out swinging as hard as “Take Me to Church,” a doomy anti-gospel sermon that set its crosshairs on the hectoring and hypocrisies of the Catholic Church, delivered in a commanding, corrupted-choir-boy voice imbued with equal doses of grace and grit. That striking single topped charts around the world and scored Hozier a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year, but the self-titled debut album it introduced also showcased a singer-songwriter with a deft command of sweet soulful rockers (“Someone New”) and dreamy folk reveries (“Like Real People Do”). The dichotomy between rage and romanticism would only become more pronounced on 2019’s Wasteland Baby!, where some of Hozier’s prettiest performances to date (like the delicate finger-picked hymn “Shrike”) rub up against the righteous fury of “Nina Cried Power,” a spirited, Mavis Staples-assisted protest anthem that takes Hozier back to church to further rattle the steeple.
HOMETOWNBray, County Wicklow, Ireland
BORNMarch 17, 1990