This may sound a bit far-fetched, but I’m going to go ahead and compare Andrew Hozier-Bryne, performing under the name Hozier, to Nirvana. A bit over a year ago, the majority of the world had never heard of the Irish singer-songwriter, and now, a week after release of his eponymous debut, he shot up to number 2 of the Billboard charts, beating artists like Weezer, Flying Lotus and Barbra Streisand – and her fans are the age group that actually still buy CDs. It’s a Nirvana-kind-of-situation because his music – though radio-friendly and catchy – is different.
First of all, there is the voice. The soulful baritone, booming forcefully with a playful vibrato, tumbling from the highest notes to the lowest crooning. He sounds impeccable – live as well as on the recordings. He clearly is borrowing from both his training as a solo choir singer as well as his musical inspirations; if you check his public Spotify playlists you can see he counts Muddy Waters, Leonard Cohen, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday to his idols. Not only have those influenced his style of singing, but also how he writes.
“Take Me to Church,” the single that went viral on the Internet and got him playing at SXSW, all across the world, and lastly the prestigious late night show Saturday Night Live, almost seems like a Gospel, borrowing from the old harmonies before even the Blues was born, while “Someone New” easily could have been written by soul singers Otis Redding or Al Green. “In A Week,” featuring the talent of Karen Cowley, touches on traditional Irish folk music, while still holding ties to the Blues. Hozier may not seem like it, but in subtle nuances his music is all over the place.
He is an unlikely star, seeming so serious, yet humble. That may or may not just be an act – heck, my cockiness would be going through the roof at this point if I were him – but it works. Not only that, but in this case, it’s a great example of how social media can kick ass nowadays. Let’s back up on this one again: He becomes famous after his song becomes viral, and then he (or his team, but I assume it’s a combination of the both) proceeds to be engaged on his networks, posting lyric bits, calling out to a fan art contest. He even put a cell number on Facebook and Twitter (see it here), probably disposable and just used for the day, so people could call him and talk to him the day of album release. Weirdly down to earth, and just human – and that’s why he’s on number 2 of the Billboard charts and the reason I’m comparing him to Nirvana.
When the grunge band first released Nevermind, they came out of nowhere in a world dominated by HipHop, Rap and R’n’B, and they made way for music that wasn’t popular back then, they paved the way for the indie bands we love and listen to today. Hozier, on the other hand, is just the boy next door playing guitar. I hope I won’t be disappointed in a couple of years, when we actually can judge what happens to the guy, but as of now, I would say it’s nice to see a little bit of humility in this megalomanic business. Especially when it’s rewarded with the Top 10.
Article by: Julia Maehner