“Nina Cried Power” and “Wasteland, Baby!”: Taking A Look into Hozier’s Musical Growth
By Andrea Williams
Album Title: Wasteland, Baby!
Favorite Songs: “To Noise Making (Sing)” and “Nobody”
Recommended If You Like: James Bay and Vance Joy
In 2013 Hozier released one of his first EP’s titled Take Me to Church. On this EP was the title track of the same name, which took the radio by storm. This Grammy-nominated song peaked at number two in the United States and went six-times platinum. About a year later, he put out his debut album titled Hozier that introduced his unique folk sound to pop radio. Ever since then, not much has come from the singer.
Hozier’s New Music
After five years of no new music from Hozier, fans were pretty excited to finally get a new full-length album from the Irish singer. He finally broke his music silence on September 7, 2018, when he released his newest EP titled Nina Cried Power. This EP consists of four new songs, with the first being the title track of the same name.
In an interview with Rolling Stone by Joy Asico, he said “I developed a fascination with the roots of African-American music … I love Muddy Waters and Nina Simone.” This love was proven in his most recent album with "Nina Cried Power," which features Mavis Staples, who is known not only for her career in music, but also for her civil rights activism.
Mavis Staples started her music career with her family - with The Staple Singers. The family group sang songs in genres such as gospel music and soulful pop. They had hits such as "Respect Yourself," "I'll Take You There," and "If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)." Paralleling both her and Hozier's themes, The Staple Singers drove in messages for social activism and love.
The song itself acts as a tribute to important figures throughout civil rights history, such as Marvin Gaye and Staples herself. It provides Hozier's outlook on protesting and activism in general. The themes of using his music as a voice against oppression isn't new. In fact, "Take Me to Church" also acted as commentary against the church.
With this EP, fans really get a taste of all the different styles of music that Hozier is known for. In “Nina Cried Power," listeners get more of the rock sound that is shown in some of his older work such as “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene” and “Jackie and Wilson.” In songs such as “Shrike” and “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue),” fans hear more of the softer guitar sounds that are in songs like “In A Week” and “Like Real People Do.”
After the releases of his multiple EPs and singles, Hozier finally unleashed his sophomore album: Wasteland, Baby!
The first song that wasn’t released before the album is titled “No Plan.” In this song, fans can hear the signature guitar that starts it off. However, once you hit the verse he throws in an ear-catching bass line that plays throughout most of it.
One song that stands out on Wasteland, Baby! is titled “To Noise Making (Sing).” In it, fans hear a different side to Hozier: one that is more pop. This song starts off with the piano and his voice to instantly draw you in. The chorus will have you singing it all day and at the top of your lungs. It is a very simple melody that is catchy and fun to sing along to.
Overall, his album is nothing but great songs for any occasion that you could find yourself in. It also features many of his unique sounds that fans have fallen in love with.
One of the more famous approaches he took to promote the album was going down to an unsuspecting crowd in the New York City subway and singing multiple songs.
This impromptu concert took place about a week after his album release. The performance had very positive responses from fans who were both able and unable to witness the performance in person. In fact, it garnered millions of views online, going to show just how powerful Hozier’s music is.
While he probably won’t stop to have another impromptu concert down in Boston's T stations, fans can catch Hozier at his Boston Calling set on Saturday, May 25.