It had been four years since Hozier had released new music. And then on September 6th, we got four new songs from the "Nina Cried Power" EP. And they're everything you want them to be. Hozier's diverse and blended musical style, when put with the poetry of his lyrics, creates some of the most powerful music in the modern age of pop.

"Nina Cried Power" shows the further development of the artist, through music that is both aesthetically pleasing, thought-provoking, and challenging. Here is my very subjective ranking of the sixteen best moments, lyrically and musically, from the "Nina Cried Power" EP.

16. Moment's Silence: "When stunted hand earns place with man by mere monstrosity,"

"Moment's Silence" has the most upbeat rhythm of the four songs, but no lyrical punches are pulled here. The song's themes include Hozier classics like religion, judgement, and broken leadership, all relating to his relationship. This lyric is especially impressive because of the techniques it uses. It's chock full of literary devices, and coupled with the upbeat rhythm, it subconsciously grabs at the listener.

15. Nina Cried Power: The 2nd Verse

"Nina Cried Power" grapples the most overtly with political themes, as we see in its second verse: "It's not the wall but what's behind it/The fear of fellow men, his mere assignment/And everything we're denied/By keeping the divide/It's not the waking, it's the rising."

14. Shrike: "Then when met you, my virtues uncounted,"

Despite how grounded in reality it actually is, most of us are familiar with this feeling. You meet someone, and all of a sudden you feel like you knew for the first time who you could really become.

13. NFWMB: "Give your heart and soul to charity,"

I chose this lyric because of the way Hozier sings it. In NFWMB, he sings very differently than any of his other songs. His quiescence here makes the listener lean into the song even more. This lyric, the opening of the second stanza in the first verse, is the first line drew me in. It switches gears from an apocalyptic meet-cute to something almost demanding and subtly sinister.

12. Moment's Silence: "The reason comes on the common tongue of your loving me,"

I've heard few musicians as skilled as Hozier when it comes to using words to elevate emotions. Sometimes there's one person that makes everything make sense. And Hozier's phraseology makes me feel like I'm discovering that all over again.

11. NFWMB: "Ain't it warming you, the world gone up in flames,"

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Romance and gallows humor? Yes please.

10. Nina Cried Power: "It's the heat that drives the light, it's the fire it ignites,"

"Nina Cried Power" is a revolutionary's anthem, one grounded in real events and people. Each verse demands us to examine the human spirit, and what causes us to "[cry] power." My liking of this line in particular is subjective, but what it stands for--in Hozier's own words, "the actuality of hope, solidarity and love"--well, there's much to like in that.

9. Shrike: The opening

Before the first verse begins, the intro to "Shrike" steals the listener away. It's folksy, whimsical, soft, transporting. It's the musical equivalent of dappled sunshine beaming onto the forest floor.

8. NFWMB: The guitar at the beginning

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I know very little about instruments, but just from listening I was struck by how similar the opening of "NFWMB" was to "It Will Come Back." As someone who's listened to the latter, I felt instantly more connected to "NFWMB." And when "NFWMB" diverged...well, it catches you in a way you'll only know if you've listened to both. So if you haven't, do that now, and if you have, there's no use for me to try to explain it.

7. Moment's Silence: The various lead-ins to the chorus  

One aspect I enjoy about Hozier's music is that, from chorus to chorus, he will often change all the words except for a phrase or two. He does this with "Moment's Silence." Before the aforementioned lyric "The reason comes on the common tongue of your loving me" he sings "When the meaning is gone/There is clarity" "And it's easy done/Our little remedy" "Since it all begun/To its reckoning" "Like a heathen clung to the homily" and "So summon on the pearl rosary," respectively. Each works to serve the narrative of the song, while tying it all together with "the common tongue."

6. NFWMB: "Ain't you my baaaaaby..."

If you've heard "NFWMB" you know exactly why I love this line. The EP wouldn't be complete if we didn't have a drawn-out "baby."

5. Nina Cried Power: Mavis Staples

Michael Ochs Archives

"Nina Cried Power" is gritty and powerful. It touches something guttural and righteous, and the feature of Mavis Staples takes it to a mind-blowing place. Staples, who (I'm ashamed to say) I was not familiar with prior to this song, has one of the strongest, rawest voices I've heard. Hozier and Staples sound great together, but one of the most standout moments of the song is when she gets her own verse: "And I could cry power/Power has been cried by those stronger than me/Straight into the face that tells you/To rattle your chains if you love being free." As a Black woman in America, Staples' voice, both literally and figuratively, added volumes to this track.

4. NFWMB: The meter of the pre-chorus 

The two iterations of this pre-chorus (both ending with "ain't you my babe) are downright intoxicating. Each line rolls over onto the other hypnotically, wrapping us up in the gentle violence of "NFWMB."

3. Nina Cried Power: "It's not the song, it is the singing,"

Not only is the musical pause before it masterful, this line just makes me want to shriek in agreement. Like, yes! It is the singing: Hozier's, Staples', and every other singer who knows the power they wield with their voice.

2. NFWMB: The "blackthorn tree" lyric 

"If I was born as a blackthorn tree/I'd wanna be felled by you/Held by you/Fuel the pyre of your enemies."

I can't desecrate these lyrics with any description. I can only tell you that this verse had me losing my mind, like I'd never heard a poetic device before.

1. Shrike: The choruses 

My own #1 here surprised me. When I first listened to this EP, it was "Nina Cried Power" and "NFWMB" that I was drawn to. But when I listened deeply, the choruses of "Shrike" filled me with a moving melancholy. A shrike is a bird know for impaling its prey on a thorn. These choruses connect so purely with Hozier's storytelling ability, painting a complete image of a truly tragic relationship. Is it cheating that I chose three choruses to represent a single moment? Probably. But it would be injustice to break up the story. Here, read it for yourself:

Bites on above
But never would form
Like a cry at the final breath that is drawn
Remember me love, when I'm reborn
As the shrike to your sharp and glorious thorn




Driving alone, following your form
Hung like the pelt of some prey you had worn
Remember me love, when I'm reborn
As a shrike to your sharp and glorious thorn


I was hatched by your warmth
And I was transformed
But you're grounded and giving
And darkening scorn
Remember me love, when I'm reborn
As a shrike to your sharp and glorious thorn