This isn’t an introduction of someone completely unknown, as Andrew Hozier-Byrne (better known as Hozier) is currently ripping up the U.S. radio and Billboard charts with his song, “Take Me To Church,” is poised to release his debut album and is about to embark on a mostly sold out U.S. tour. I was captivated by the power and beauty of that song, pulled up the lyrics and was complelete knocked out, but what really did it for me, and for a lot of other people, was watching the deeply moving video.

The story follows two young lovers and the resulting hostility and violence of neighbors turned into rabid mongrels, fueled by fear and intolerance. It is a poignant indictment of the homophobia rampant in Russia right now, and of the government’s unwillingness to do anything about it. It is also something of an indictment of the intolerance, hypocrisy and religious dogma of the Catholic church, which unfortunately is worldwide.

Hozier is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Amazingly, he’s just 24 years old, born on St. Patrick’s day in 1990, in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland. I say “amazingly” because of the depth, poetry and wisdom of his lyrics. He has the kind of stark clarity that comes with many years of living, the little bugger. An old soul, to be sure.

He was born to a blues musician and was exposed at an early age to the music of Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, and then to Delta blues, Motown, gospel and jazz. Other influences include Leonard Cohen (no question), community choral singing, and author James Joyce, especially “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.” He spent a little time at Trinity College in Dublin, studying music, until he left to record demos and pursue a music career full time. He sang and toured with the Irish choral group Anúna, performed with the Dublin group Nova Collective and released his solo EP, Take Me To Church, in 2013. His second EP, From Eden, was released this past spring. His debut album is due out in October, and can be pre-ordered here.

My lover’s got humor
She’s the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody’s disapproval

I should’ve worshiped her sooner
If the Heavens ever did speak
She’s the last true mouth piece

Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week
We were born sick, you heard them say it
My church offers no absolution
She tells me ‘worship in the bedroom’
The only heaven I’ll be sent to

Is when I’m alone with you
I was born sick, but I love it
Command me to be well

Amen (x3)

Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good god, let me give you my life
– Take Me To Church

If you’d like to see Hozier, you may be out of luck this time around, as nearly everything is already sold out. But here are the East Coast dates anyway, and if you’re feeling especially lucky, go to his web site and enter to win tickets. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye and ear out for his debut album.

East Coast Shows
10/31 Paradise Rock Club, Boston
11/1 Trocadero Theatre, Philadelphia
11/4 9:30 Club, Washington D.C.
11/5 & 11/6 Irving Plaza, NYC
* all shows sold out *

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