Salena Moran & Evan Penrod | Staff Writers
After a four-year hiatus following his previous self-titled album in 2014, Hozier returns with a new EP, Nina Cried Power. The artist famous for “Take Me to Church” culminates his folk, blues- and Irish- influenced rock in just four songs that sparked his return to the spotlight and promises of more music in the near future.
The EP’s songs, including “Nina Cried Power,” “NFWMB,” “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” and “Shrike,” reveal Hozier’s artistic improvement with a more refined and polished sound than his prior work while remaining true to his roots.
The new release still highlights Hozier’s knack for lyrical poeticism, with the indie and mellow vocals taking the forefront to his more simplistic instrumentals. Whether easy percussion, snaps, claps, piano or guitar, the singer’s musical composition reflects the haunting folk that gave him his rise to fame.
The opening title track, “Nina Cried Power,” features a powerful combination with the soulful voice of Mavis Staples. The song showcases clean, straightforward percussion, piano and church choir-esque vocals in a powerful anthem. While this piece provides a strong opening, it leaves the audience wishing for more in the following numbers. Perhaps the intensity of the songs would be spread more evenly if the tracks were rearranged.
“NFWMB” creates a ethereal atmosphere with the guitar, piano and layered vocal harmonies working in tandem, proving that less is more. Unfortunately, the repetitive and uninteresting nature of the lyrics makes the only explicit song on this album lose its effectiveness. Swearing in lyrics denotes bold sentiments, however when overused, can become relatively meaningless.
As perhaps the only song that would have fit into the mold of his first album, “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” delves into a more bluesy vibe that significantly highlights his vocal range. This song comes as a welcome change indicative of the “old” Hozier as compared to the prior two tracks that focus more on experimental sounds.
Finally, “Shrike” displays the acoustic guitar and even introduces some string instrumentals. This track sounds like it belongs at the end of a movie, as it definitely feels more vast and cinematic. “Shrike” contains more of the elements established in the earlier tracks of this album while feeling like an epic ballad piece.
Hozier’s baby-step back into the musical realm with these four tracks ultimately indicates a promising and iconic full length album to come. While four years seemed a long time to perfect his art, Nina Cried Power EP exemplifies Hozier’s newer and more developed take on this genre of music.