To Noise Making
If you know who Hozier is, you probably know “Take Me To Church.” But if you only know “Take Me To Church”, you probably don’t know who Hozier is, of course aside from his 2013 earthy single. So I’m here to tell you about him, about his music, starting with a song from his self titled album, which was released around six years ago.
Hozier’s “In a Week” is a duet with Karen Cowley, an Irish singer who is a part of the band Wyvern Lingo.
The opening is a plucking of strings. It’s a mellow sound, one you’ll find in a lot of Hozier’s music. He layers his guitar with a set of lyrics that can only be described as poetry. And technically, all songs take the shape of poetry - in some way - but this one is different. This one is a 58 line narrative poem bleeding ethereality and telling a story that I assume you haven’t heard before.
In the beginning, Hozier claims: “I have never known peace/Like the damp grass that yields to me”. He creates a feeling of contentment, which follows him and expands throughout the song. Then there’s “A thousand teeth/Yours among them, I know/Our hungers appeased/Our heartbeats becoming slow”.
To say that this song is morbid would be an understatement. Nevertheless, it’s still quite beautiful.
The lyrics create an image of two lovers coming together in their deaths, and Hozier describes this converging as “home.” He and Cowley repeat the phrase “I’d be home with you” a whopping ten times in this song, further cementing the idea of coming together, of returning to the earth, hand in hand with the one you love. And there’s something deliciously comforting about that.
The chorus includes Hozier as well as Karen Cowley, with Cowley singing the melody while Hozier’s voice melts into hers. Together, they sing, “And they'd find us in a week/When the weather gets hot/After the insects have made their claim/I'd be home with you”.
There’s a part of the song where the two are singing two ultimately different things, although, again, they melt into each other and create a sound where no single voice towers over the other. Instead, you hear both parts almost equally, right before they come together once again, background noise disappearing as the two voices almost whisper, “And they’d find us in a week.”
If you haven’t figured it out by now, “In a Week” is one of my absolute favorite songs. I’m a sucker for love songs, especially those that house stories that haven’t yet been told. Because, if I’m being honest, I’d never before heard an artist of our century tackle the challenge of turning something as tragic as the rotting of corpses into something unbelievably heavenly. And what’s more heavenly than holding your lover’s hand long enough until your bodies grow to become the flowers?
Now, the great thing about Hozier is his habit of creating amazing song after amazing song, each one just as meaningful and heavenly as the last.
One of his more popular songs is “Cherry Wine”, which tells the story of someone experiencing abuse. It’s important and - dare I say - groundbreaking to hear this from the point of view of a man, seeing that we as a society often dismiss or ignore the reality of men being victims of emotional or physical abuse.
Hozier goes about this important issue delicately, again including the soft plucking of guitar strings while muttering lyrics that, at first glance, seem to be nothing but those of a simple love song. And while this is a love song, as twisted as it may be, there is a weight to Hozier’s words that you don’t immediately feel unless you’re looking to.
He describes “her” loving as “sleep to the freezing”, which can be interpreted as something he wants but knows he shouldn’t have, as the freezing long to rest, but doing so would inevitably kill them.
Throughout his two albums and two EPs, you can surely find more songs like this one. If you’re looking for something upbeat, listen to “Almost (Sweet Music)” or “Someone New”. If you’re looking for another love song, listen to “Work Song” or “Wasteland, Baby!”. And if you’re looking for something heavier, something even more meaningful, check out “Nina Cried Power.”
Hozier himself has claimed “Nina Cried Power” as “a thank you note to the spirit of protest.” This song also includes another artist, Mavis Staples, an American gospel singer, and well known civil rights activist. Hozier calls out several civil rights activists and musical artists in this song, such as John Lennon, James Brown, Bob Dylan, Woody Gutherie, Mavis herself, and of course, Nina Simone.
He does a flawless job of unpacking the importance of the protest, of the spirits of the people who helped push forward the Civil Rights Movement. And accompanied by the incredible Mavis Staples, Hozier creates a hearty feel, crying “power” throughout the entire song.
Our generation is lucky enough to have so many incredible artists creating music every day, making noise with their voices, and essentially shouting out to whoever will listen. Hozier is one of those people. So, here’s to that. Here’s to noise-making, and here’s to every poem Andrew Hozier-Byrne writes and puts to music.
Written By Kennedy Kelis