After a four-year hiatus, Irish folk-blues rock singer Hozier released his new EP, “Nina Cried Power,” Sept. 6. As a preface to his upcoming full-length album, the EP features four songs ranging in both style and quality that jumpstart his artistic comeback.
The title song, “Nina Cried Power,” immediately diverges from Hozier’s past lo-fi works, overlaying on fast, drum-heavy tempos, that are atypical compared to his usual guitar-led melodies. The high-energy song pays homage to classic R&B gospel musicians, even mentioning Nina Simone and Billie Holiday.
The song also features gospel singer Mavis Staples, whose voice blends seamlessly and soulfully with Hozier’s, their harmonies highlighting and giving way to one another. The song’s effortless strength make it a testament to the artist’s new musical route.
The second song, “NFWMB,” contrasts to the first with its quiet, whispering vocals and supplemental guitar riffs — the song is even darker in tone than the similar song, “It Will Come Back,” featured on Hozier’s 2014 LP. The song hints at dark topics like death and demise, suiting the eerie rhythm. But where this song shined, it also fell short with its excessive lyrical repetition and minimal coherent melody, making it the weak link of the EP.
“Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue),” the third song on the EP, strikes up energy resembling the title song. But, it possesses a beat mirroring indie-pop artists like the Arctic Monkeys and The Black Keys, and has fewer ties to the R&B homage in “Nina Cried Power.” The song included anticipatory beat drops following moments of silence that draw the listener in, as well as tasteful lyrics about intimacy and romance partnered with echoing vocals.
The final song, “Shrike,” parallels Hozier’s hits “Cherry Wine,” and “Like Real People Do.” The melody — though reliant on painstaking guitar riffs — floats thoughtfully and heartwarmingly. The versatile gentleness of the song, though nothing groundbreaking or new for Hozier, allows it to be received by a wide audience looking for pure instrumentals and vocal skill. The guitar sets a structural stage for Hozier’s raw talent and tempestuous vocal ability that can evoke emotion in its listeners.