Hozier waxes bittersweet once more in new 'Nina Cried Power - EP'

Hozier gives tribute to social activists, continues his complaints about the views of the church and melancholy feelings of love
Irish musician Hozier releases a new EP after 4 years. Courtesy of iTunes

Hozier has so wonderfully returned to us in a new EP titled “Nina Cried Power” released on Sept. 6. The EP features four new songs and is only 17 minutes long, but in that time he manages to leave a lasting punch with strong, opinionated songs discussing social activism, conversatism of the church and the pain of lost love.

The EP is his first new music since “Better Love”, a single made for the 2016 film “The Legend of Tarzan” and his popular self-titled album from 2014. This small taste of new music from him has surely left fans desirous for more, which he notes as coming in a statement on his website; “This collection of songs is an example of what I’ve been working on in the last while and will be a small taste of what is to be expected from the upcoming album.”

In “Hozier”, he features a protest song, “Take Me to Church”, which challenged homophobia in the church, showing he is quite familiar with writing protest songs and is a bit of an activist himself. This led him to create the title track of “Nina Cried Power.” The song is a tribute to Nina Simone and samples from her song “Sinnerman” and to social activism and protest songs in general. He also mentions those he believes to be both legends in music and activism, dropping names such as James Brown, John Lennon and Billie Holiday.

Mavis Staples, a famous gospel singer, black civil rights activist and part of The Staple Singers is featured on the title track, as well as Booker T. Jones, another old-school soul artist who is best known as frontman of Booker T. & the M.G.'s and is a longtime musical idol of Hozier. Jones is featured with his organ-playing throughout the EP.

When Hozier was asked about the track and working with Staples in a recent Rolling Stones interview, he stated, “The fights that took place 100 years ago or 200 years ago for whatever — civil rights or workers' right etc. — don’t stop. There is no final victory. [Staples is] the most amazing person, just fucking unbelievable. [Her] energy is still absolutely there.”

Additionally, in an email newsletter he sent out announcing the EP: “The title track was written sometime last year, and my aim was to credit the actuality of hope, solidarity and love found in the human spirit at a time when their opposites were being given a mainstream platform 24/7,” Hozier said. He went on to say that the song started as a ‘tongue-in-cheek inquiry into modern popular language regarding political awareness and grew from there,’ and that it was a thank you note to the legacy of artists from the 20th Century who still inspire people today.

The second track on the EP, titled "NFWMB", or an acronym to the chorus ‘Nobody Fucks With My Baby’, is significantly more relaxed and toned down, a melancholy “love song for the end of the world”. This is a beautiful little song. You may find yourself a little sad to listen to it, but you’ll be pleased when his lovely honeyed voice hits your ears, talking about his passion and protective nature for his lover.

In the third track, “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)”, Hozier speaks on how he enjoys physical contact with those he loves, while commenting on his annoyance on those who look down upon it, specifically the church. He notes how God would likely look upon his actions in indifference, “All reason flown, as God looks on in abject apathy,” yet conservative church-going people would see it as horrific, “When stunted hammers place with men, my mere monstrosity/Alarms are struck and sure as shook by sheer atrocity”. This is a very strong piece that I find expresses both how much he enjoys those he loves as well as allowing him to comment on his feelings regarding those judging him. It reminds of “Take Me to Church,” not by sound, but by his continued critique against the views of the church.

Finally, in the fourth track, “Shrike,” he laments upon a lost love and what he wishes he could’ve done to retain it, as well as how much he misses it after the fact. “I couldn't utter my love when it counted/Ah, but I'm singing like a bird, 'bout it now”. More folksy than the other songs, as well as a minute longer than everything else on the EP, he reminds us of his Irish roots that show strongly in his accented words and leave us feeling just a little bittersweet and enamored.

Overall, this is a very strong, opinionated and wonderful EP. None have left me quite so in need of more songs to listen to than this truly engaging, beautiful little thing, showing his heart and soul when he discusses his loves and how he wishes the world was changed for the better. I have been a fan of Hozier’s ever since his song “Take Me to Church” hit the radio and with this reminder of him, I feel a need to sit down and listen to all his songs again and feel whisked away to another world; one significantly more beautiful, kinder and filled with man-buns than this we currently live in. Thank you for giving this to us, Hozier and we hope to see you again soon.

Edited by Siena DeBolt | sdebolt@themaneater.com

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