After what seems like decades in hiding, Irish singer-songwriter Hozier is back again with an EP entitled “Nina Cried Power.” The Sept. 9 EP is his first new music since his self-titled debut album that was released in 2014, and brings with it a new and rather intense sound to listeners who associate his name with songs such as the ethereal “Take Me To Church” or the heartfelt, bluesy “Jackie and Wilson.” Though it only contains four tracks, the EP hits hard while using a variety of sounds, all of which Hozier is working on making his own.
The opening track “Nina Cried Power” surges forward with a solemn yet determined energy that grabs the listener and does not let go. The musicality is decidedly alternative, echoing the style of groups such as The Broken Bells and Cage The Elephant; however, the vocal composition takes a soulful turn, pairing Hozier’s folksy howl with the soulful voice of prestigious gospel artist and civil rights activist Mavis Staples. Adding even more R&B ethos to the EP by way of the title track is Booker T. Jones, featured on keyboard. Lyrics saturated with references to important American musicians create a heavy yet optimistic picture of social change. The accompanying music video depicts Irish activists hearing the song for the first time and records their uncut reactions. Hozier also makes appearances, unashamedly jamming to his own work.
The following track, titled “NFWMB” begins with the heartfelt acoustic guitar for which audiences recognize Hozier. Minimal percussion and lyrics outline his devotion to a lover, making for a quietly intense tune, brooding and lustful, but not dirty. The stripped-down feel sets it apart from the previous track, but the EP does not lose anything by it and “NFWMB” will make a fine addition to the full-length album that is surely on the horizon.
The tempo speeds up with “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” as blues guitar riffs combine with slightly more percussion to create a song that swings but also sways. In the singer-songwriter style that he and few others can execute, Hozier talks about the love of a woman as a burst of clarity in the midst of a confusing world.
“Shrike,” the final track of the EP, slows down once more with a return to the Irish style which got Hozier where he stands. Relatable lyrics concerning love long after the feeling strikes at the heart of the listener for nearly five minutes. Again, promising material that drops a not-so-secret hint at a full-length album in the works.
Hozier’s EP Nine Cried Power is good news delivered by way of blues, folk, and alternative tinged with themes of devotion, heartbreak, and social justice. The better news? These are just four tracks. If the album that grows from this EP is anything like the four solid songs it already contains, listeners should not be afraid to expect great things.