We have been waiting for him to return. Three years after his successful self-titled debut album, Hozier has blessed us with a short, yet intense EP, “Nina Cried Power“. The release has come like a little something just to help us wait for what’s building up for the near future. A small, yet powerful gift of the gods, which has certainly inspired many to go spend some time in the woods and take a breathe of fresh air (or ten)…It even features Mavis Staples!
It’s no secret that Hozier has always found inspiration in jazz and soul music but it’s even more striking this time around, where these specific elements, added to his poetry elevate his songs, giving them more depth. And it’s becoming quite addictive. Addictive as songs like NFWMB that can easily be replayed over and over, without ever becoming boring.
On stage, the singer will grace us with his soothing aura and a vocal accuracy that is rare. Raw and uncut, Hozier’s musicianship has taken him around the most beautiful venues worldwide several times already. Traveling the world to sing about equality and love, it’s delightful to see that the young man is mostly surrounded by the same extremely talented musicians. Somehow like a family of their own, their closeness and mutual respect transcribe into the music, creating intimacy and smoothness, and overall enhance the live experience.
As a singer and a songwriter, Hozier’s art is cemented by the storytelling he’s particularly good at; his Irish background having probably something to do with this…Not only his lyrics are some of the finest and well-thought, around, but he also knows how to tell a story, with kindness and mischief.
There’s no barricade between Hozier and his listeners, so it’s no surprise that he asks them to make “noise structured in a musical way”, a couple songs in, at this show we’re attending. An audience that’s been especially silent and respectful until then. After the glass was broken, you could distinguish shy murmurings during the most popular choruses, a sign that people were finally feeling less intimidated by this class act playing this class venue – la Salle Pleyel- in Paris. Perhaps the audience had also come to the realisation that they were possibly bidding farewell to a few numbers. In fact, there must be room for the new tracks from Hozier’s yet to be announced 2019 album, when they’re ready. Hozier also had a few surprises in store, such as a stripped-back cover for Destiny’s Child Say My Name (to which everyone in the room responded with enthusiasm!)
It’s also worth noticing that the singer gives close attention to the visual aspects accompanying his music, whether it is on stage through a spectacular light show and a beautiful, transforming setting or off stage. A recent example being the music video for Movement, which features Ukrainian ballet dancer Sergei Polunin. This latter’s performance adds intensity and power to an already moving song and it’s fascinating to witness multiple forms of art fuelling each other this way. Commenting on it, Hozier mentioned believing “one of the greatest things to become of your own work is for it to form part of another artist’s vision or execution.”
Hozier is eagerly awaited and he knows it. The infamous sophomore album challenge is something artists are well aware of, and the general opinion is already speculating about the singer’s predictability. But judging by what “Nina Cried Power” had to offer and the man’s intelligence in the way he sees his art developing, there’s still hope that Hozier has found a way to avoid this path.