Hozier releases his first album since 2014. | Courtesy Wiki­Media

“Nina Cried Power,” the new four-song EP from Hozier (whose full name is Andrew Hozier-Byrne), is a much-needed col­lection of new music from one of modern rock’s most original artists. To be released next year, the EP is the pre­cursor to a full-length album, Hozier’s first since 2014. 

Hozier’s only full-length album released to date, the self-titled “Hozier,” was an eclectic mix of indie, blues and soul influ­ences that was a critical and com­mercial success, as the lead single earned him a Grammy nom­i­nation and the album went on to sell more than 1 million copies worldwide. With the exception of a really bad song written for “The Legend of Tarzan” sound­track, the four songs on “Nina Cried Power,” are the first new music released from the Irishman since “Hozier.” While the EP is not Hozier’s best work by any means, “Nina Cried Power” is a welcome break from the bland pop-rock of Imagine Dragons and Panic! at the Disco that is cur­rently dom­i­nating the charts.

The title track of the EP, which fea­tures leg­endary singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, is a tribute to Nina Simone and the many other artists who used their musical gifts to promote the civil rights cause. The track’s clear pol­itics are mild for Hozier, whose most popular song, “Take Me to Church,” is a ripping con­dem­nation of homo­phobia in reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions. As a song, “Nina Cried Power” is a soulful rock number that gives Hozier a chance to use his pow­erful voice. Staples’ raspy cries com­plement Hozier’s deep voice fairly well, and her inclusion pro­vides a clear con­nection to the subject of the song —  protest songs and their influence in the civil rights movement. Though it grows repet­itive by the end, “Nina Cried Power” is a solid addition to Hozier’s catalog. 

By far the weakest song of the album is “NFWMB,” an acronym that con­ceals the song’s explicit title. It is an atmos­pheric pop song with some incredibly twisted lyrics. Hozier sings, “If I was born as a black­thorn tree / I’d wanna be felled by you / held by you / fuel the pyre of your enemies.” It’s a song unlike any other Hozier song, and he deserves credit for exper­i­menting with his sound. However, the spooky sonics and lyrics make for a song I’d only play on Hal­loween.

The strongest song on the EP is “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue),” a bluesy stomp that show­cases the best of Hozier. While the lyrics are char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally dark and inac­ces­sible, he cuts loose with his huge voice on the chorus, and the guitar work throughout the song is superb. The mix of blues and soul that fans of his first album have come to expect is cer­tainly alive in “Moment’s Silence.” While it might not attain the pop­u­larity of “Nina Cried Power,” it is cer­tainly my favorite song on the album.

The final song on the EP, “Shrike,” is an acoustic ballad in the vein of the enor­mously popular “Cherry Wine” off of Hozier’s last album. The song gets its title from a species of bird that eats meat and is known for pinning car­casses of its prey on thorns. While the song is beau­tiful and Hozier’s voice sounds gor­geous over the acoustic guitar, the lyrics are about as com­pre­hen­sible as “Moby Dick” written in Latin. Despite that, the song is the second most popular of the new songs on Spotify, second only to “Nina Cried Power.”

Despite the new EP not being of the same quality as “Hozier,” it cer­tainly showed Hozier back in full force after too long of an absence. Fans of Hozier and good rock should be excited about his new full-length album due to arrive next year.