Hozier makes a triumphant return with the release of new the EP “Nina Cried Power,” along with his recently released single, “Movement, and its accompanying music video.
The last time you probably heard Andrew Hozier Byrne, better known as Hozier, I’d venture to guess that it was the summer of 2014 and the Irish song-bird was warbling “Take Me to Church” on the radio for what must of have been the thousandth time that day. With his smash hit leading the way, Hozier took the world by storm four years ago playing everything from The Grammys to Coachella, and even the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Since then, the average person has not heard much of the brooding musician.
As of September 2018, Hozier has blessed the world with new music in the form of his latest released EP, “Nina Cried Power”. Hozier, an unabashed fan of the titular “Nina”- that is Nina Simone, was inspired to write the title song as both an homage to the High Priestess of Soul as well as to other musicians who have used their voices to advance the common good amid political turmoil. Accompanied by the vocals of the legendary Mavis Staples, Hozier belts with a litany of such artists including Joni Mitchell, John Lennon, and Mavis Staples, herself.
Highly cognizant the political turmoil abroad surrounding the 2016 American Presidential elections and other events around Ireland such as Brexit and the recent repeal of Irish 8th Amendment, which banned abortions in the country, “Nina Cried Power” is also meant to decry divisive politics and extreme “wokeness.” Playing on this idea of being “woke,” Hozier croons from the opening line of the title song, “It’s not the waking it’s the rising/it’s the grounding of a foot uncompromising.” Hozier’s music is for the thinking man, as this new EP makes very clear. Superficial political engagement for social media’s sake is never present in the artist’s personal philosophy or in his music.
Though the EP’s other tracks, “NFWB” (a brilliant acronym which is revealed in the song to mean “nothing fucks with my baby”) and “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” are both more than worth a listen, “Shrike” is perhaps my favorite of the lot. Named for the diminutive bird known to literally impale its prey on the thorns from which it makes its nest, “Shrike” is a dystopian love song laden with the gothic elements and haunting melody that made “Take me to Church” a hit years earlier.
I had the opportunity to preview Hozier’s most recently released track, “Movement” as part of his concert at The Wiltern this past October. Though the crowd was highly receptive to fresh music from the Irish singer, I was less than impressed. “Movement” was a down beat in what was an otherwise amazing concert, mostly due to the fact that the song just seemed to be a strange departure both musically and tonally from Hozier’s other tracks.
However, the recently released new music video for “Movement” has renewed my interest in the single that I prematurely maligned. The song itself holds up much better outside of a concert venue. The intimacy of the video, aided by a dancing Hozier look-a-like, solidified the connection of the music with the artist in a way that wasn’t conveyed in an initial live performance. The opening “I still watch you when you’re groovin’/ as if through water from the bottom of a pool” is smoothly serenaded by the singer in a way that makes you feel as if he’s standing right next to you in the room. The song swells to the chorus and the hook of the song “When you move, I move,” is aptly depicted by a surprise second Hozier doppelganger who mirrors the first in a writhing, dancing duet.
Hozier’s music is an interesting amalgam of dark romanticism and delta blues. Think John Keats meets Nina Simone. It’s both gritty and sultry, as if you could cup it in your palms like a handful of Mississippi Swamp water. The artist’s new EP, “Nina Cried Power” and “Movement” are appealing to both those well-acquainted with Hozier’s unique fusion of sound and those who are new to his discography.