It’s been four years since Hozier took us to church with his breakout eponymous album in 2014. Now, our favorite soulful crooner is back with a new EP to hold us over until his second album. Nina Cried Power is a powerful collection of four rich tunes. Hozier recruited the legendary Mavis Staples for the title track, a song about protest songs. “Nina Cried Power” references Curtis Mayfield, Billie Holiday, and of course, Nina Simone in lyrics about the unabashed and radical politics of so many legends of music history. “Nina Cried Power” is a rousing introduction to the EP, and Mavis Staples seasoned voice floats over the hook and anchors the song with a gospel flair. Perhaps the most interesting part of the song is that eclectic organ breakdown courtesy of Booker T. Jones.
From Nina, Hozier moves into the menacing “NFWMB,” an acronym for “nothing f*cks with my baby.” Hozier described the song as a “love song for the end of the world.” The description is definitely apt; there’s a broodingly post-apocalyptic sentiment that shows just how far someone will go to protect the person they love. “Ain’t it a gentle sound, the rollin’ in the graves?/Ain’t it like thunder under earth, the sound it makes?” The lyrics are haunting and the muted production creates a stunning contrast to the sheer loudness of the title track. After “NFWMB,” we move into “Moment’s Silence.” “Silence” is probably the track most reminiscent of Hozier’s debut album. The theme of sexual liberation in the context of the Church and religion is a classic talking point for Hozier, but that groovy guitar backdrop and sharp finger snaps truly elevate the song. Finally, the EP closes with “Shrike,” a Celtic-influenced song about ego, toxic love, and the deepness of emotion on both ends of the spectrum,
After the EP finishes, one line from “Nina Cried Power” still rings with a particular poignancy: “and I could cry power.” Nina Cried Power feels like an artist evolved, Hozier has fine-tuned his craft and looked to the past for pointers on how to utilize that generation-defining voice and instrumental prowess. If this is just a prelude to the album, I don’t think the world is ready for what Hozier has in store.
Key Track: “Nina Cried Power”
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