Hozier is an Irish blues singer/songwriter who is most known for his smash hit 2013 single, “Take Me to Church.” He hit the international scene in 2013 with the back to back release of the “Take Me to Church” and “From Eden” EP’s, which were eventually compiled into his self titled 2014 LP. His music is atmospheric and hard-hitting, often dealing in weighty topics, and consistency writing with almost unparalleled lyrical skill and vocal ability. This excellent debut effort was then met, however, with a deafening four year silence, which was finally broken last week with the release of the “Nina Cried Power,” EP.
The four track collection opens with the title track and immediately one notices a distinct shift for Hozier. The atmospheric blues and melodic guitar riffs are replaced by a grooving drum beat, and thick choir backup. Toss soulful vocal performances from Hozier himself and legendary R&B songstress, Mavis Staples on top of unique and beautifully articulate lyrics on the topic protest, glorifying the legacy of protest music born in the 20th century, and this EP is off to a roaring start.
This roar proceeds through the second track, “NFWMB.” This is, essentially a song focussed on love and sex, though this comes through quite beautifully thanks to Hozier’s fantastic lyrical ability. His sultry performance is rather uncharacteristic, but adds a brand new layer to the already interesting track and simplistic instrumental simply gets out of the way and lets the man work his magic, though the piano heavy lead was notable.
It’s the second half of the EP, beginning with “Moment’s Silence,” where things really start to kick in gear. This track is fun, focusing again on sex and love, but this time in contradiction to today’s popular religious teaching, and benefitting from the powerful wail of a vocal, which had been absent for the first half of the project. Beyond this, the guitar riffs are very well mixed, and carry unique melodies throughout the song.
The closer, “Shrike,” is certainly the highlight of the twenty minute run time. This is the softest of the four tracks, building on a simple acoustic guitar and a few faint chair shots. The centerpiece of the song is the wonderful vocal work from Hozier, and heartfelt lyricism which deals with themes of love lost and broken hearts.
The EP, as a whole, continues a trend of nothing but top notch releases from the young artist. The vocals are once again powerful and lyrics are characteristically thoughtful and moving. The instrumentals, on the other hand, are extremely unique in Hozier’s catalog, far more atmospheric than melodic and sporting an eclectic array of instruments and styles.
The four track EP leaves me extremely excited for the forthcoming record and with a few new additions to my regular rotation, and for that reason, it is an absolute success.
HEAR NINA CRIED POWER: https://open.spotify.com/album/78o6vcPIRwoph8a3StqaTU