Hozier: The Return of Political Music

Adopting the stage name of Hozier, Irish musician Andrew Hozier-Byrne’s raw vocals and impressive multi- instrumental musicianship, rooting himself within the soul, blues and pop genres, came solidly into lime-light when his song ‘Take me to Church’ topped the charts in 2014. However, beyond the powerful soul genre, catchy chorus and rustic vocals, the song empowers a prominent message against the Catholic Church and its homophobic religious views.

Therefore, behind this crowd-pleasing track we see somewhat controversial and unashamed political lyrics, giving Hozier a much more interesting musical depth. Reviewing the whole of his self-titled debut album, it’s clear to see this record is a collection of highly political tracks, creating an album which may even have undertones of marxist ideology.

Framing himself as an outsider in society, an anticapitalist view resonates throughout Hozier’s album. The continuous punishment of certain labelled ‘sins’ is questioned not only in ‘Take me to Church’, but also in ‘From Eden’ as he characterises himself as the snake within the infamous garden, saying he “slithered here from Eden”. Commenting on the State’s, and more specifically the Church’s, set of repressive rules, the tracks are created to speak out against this controlling force, where freedom of individuality, with a focus on sexual and romantic individuality, is punished.

The repression by the state is further seen in Hozier’s metaphor of being “buried in the yard outside” (‘Jackie and Wilson’), as he sees the individual as being ignored within a society where “idealism sits in prison” (‘From Eden’). Criticising the capitalist state and the overruling upper class – “crude and proud creatures baying” (‘To Be Alone’), Hozier’s depressing yet powerful and shocking lyrics could consequently be seen to aspire for a different social reality.

As Hozier’s blues and soul genre combines in adherence to the pop culture, his tracks are accessible to the general public. He does not musically rebel in the same way his lyrics do, enabling his growing recognition as an artist, and thus bellowing his political ideology out into the music scene. In a society which has recently fallen under a conservative government and predominantly right-wing media industry, Hozier’s music can easily be listened to as a reaction to current political and social issues. Within Western society, the musical world is a place of freedom of expression where the individual can finally be heard. Therefore, following in the footsteps of powerful political musicians such as Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and many more, Hozier could be a glimmer of a new age wave of political music.

Rowan Bennett

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