Grammy-nominated Irish Singer-Songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne, better known as Hozier (pronounce that Hoze-ee-er), took the world by storm with his hit single “Take Me to Church,” along with his 2013 debut EP of the same name. His full-length debut, Hozier, arrived a year later and, in 2015, he released the Live in America EP. Seeking to use his music as a tool for social activism, Hozier has released videos that tackle the weighty topics of violence against gays in Russia (“Take Me to Church”), as well as pointing a spotlight on domestic abuse awareness (“Cherry Wine”). Recognizing his talents and his keen insight, the singer-songwriter has received awards from the likes of the BBC Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, European Border Breakers Awards, and Teen Choice Awards, as well as receiving a veritable host of other nominations. (It’s not been a bad run, baby!)
For his sophomore disc, the 14-song Wasteland, Baby!, Hozier proves that he is no one-trick pony. Self-producing alongside collaborators Markus Dravs (Björk, Florence + the Machine) and Rob Kirwan (U2, Depeche Mode), he sets out to create a diverse collection that runs the gamut from intimate and soulful moments to tracks laden with catchy Pop-sensibilities to dark and moody, folksy laments. There’s nothing that should shock fans: just a whole lot of the delicious talent that has brought Hozier to the here and now.
In fact, two of Wasteland, Baby!’s track will be immediately familiar to fans, and the album opens with one of these selections: “Nina Cried Power.” A highlight of its namesake EP from Fall 2018, the song retains every ounce of its initial power and glory here, and Hozier gives a moving vocal performance, one that is complemented flawlessly by Gospel singer Mavis Staples’ equally passionate vocals. A respect-filled tribute to those that have used their microphones for social activism throughout the years, there are lyrical nods to Nina Simone (for whom the song is named), Patti Smith, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and more. “Power has been cried by those stronger than me,” Staples offers in a line that drives home the emotional heft of a song that will hit you right in the feels every single time.