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He’s back. That smooth blues-singing, bearded Irish man we all know as Hozier. His newly released EP Nina Cried Power is the first we’ve heard from him in four years since his last album, and with just four songs, it’s got a lot to say.

The first track, “Nina Cried Power”, flies you through a world of history and activism and ends with a strong sense of hope. Dropping names like John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, B.B. King and so many others, here Hozier gives us an anthem for freedom and uprising. Civil rights activist and gospel singer Mavis Staples fits perfectly on this track with her remarkable voice. It has the choir feel and deep lyrics of Hozier’s other hits, but something in the drum pitch and scattered melody gives it a different sense. I’d definitely recommend watching the music video to get the full feel of this track!

The second track “NFWMB”, is an acronym for the main line of the chorus “Nothing f*cks with my baby”. The guitar intro immediately brought me back to “It Will Come Back” from his first album. With a softer sound, biblical references, and a romanticizing of darkness and death, this track brings us back to why we fell in love with Hozier.

Next, “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” sticks to that sense of rebellion we get in “Nina Cried Power”, but this time with sex. It opens with a hard bluesy riff and moves us through a story of rebelling against a conservative view on sex. The melody in the verses follows the guitar riff pretty spot on but feels slightly forced in some lines. This, as well as the two prior tracks, ends on an abrupt note that makes it feel a little rushed.

Finally, the most “Hozier-sounding” track, “Shrike”. All at once this track is heavy and endlessly elegant. Opening with a folky Irish guitar riff, the singer speaks of a lost relationship, reminiscing in it, and takes the metaphor of the bird, a shrike, to bring it to us. The only track that doesn’t end abruptly, this gorgeous melody throws us into a world of cozy melancholy. His Irish accent strong and clear, the singer opens with lines of regret: “I couldn’t utter my love when it counted/ but I’m singing like a bird about it now” and hopes this lover won’t forget in the lines “Remember me, love when I’m reborn/ As a shrike to your sharp and glorious thorn.” Hozier does an amazing job of not only telling us a story here, but also wading us through the water in lines drenched in poetry.

I love Hozier, but I honestly didn’t think too much of the EP right away. But after listening to it again and focusing on the lyrics a bit more, I certainly feel closer to loving it now.

SCAD Radio gives the EP a 4.5/ 5.