Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal
Natural Born Hustler
3 1/2 out of 5 stars
You don’t have to hear a note of Josh Hoyer’s rugged music to have an idea what you’ll experience after pushing play since it’s right there in his band’s name. Not just soul, but soul colossal.
Hoyer has stuck to his guns for nearly a decade, cranking out four previous albums of late ‘60s/early ‘70s gusty, tough and heartfelt R&B. It’s too late to stop now, once sang Van Morrison, which also seems like Hoyer’s rallying cry as he drops yet another ten tunes solidifying his commitment to the honest, unvarnished vibe of another era. He’s got some high profile assistance on album number five. Eddie Roberts, frontman/guitarist/founder of the UK’s New Mastersounds, not only produces and mixes Natural Born Hustler but releases the final product on his Color Red label. Roberts’ veteran status should provide much needed visibility for Hoyer and his band on this go-round.
Those familiar with the group’s earlier work will find no surprises here. The bearded, fedora wearing singer/songwriter/keyboardist and his taut four-piece churns out another batch of tight, horn enhanced soul and funk. These songs are driven by memorable choruses and the high octane propulsive attack of a fine-tuned ensemble. The mix of slower tunes, rockers and mid-tempo hip shakers feels fresh and vibrant. Hoyer’s voice, somewhere between Boz Scaggs (who famously fronted horn oriented outfits) and Otis Redding, is featured alternatively bellowing on “The Night” and hitting a smooth stride for the tender “Automatic.” Brass is highlighted on these tracks, especially since a trombone is added to the band’s full-time trumpet player to emphasize that aspect of Hoyer’s sound.
Even if the simplistic lyrics and title of “Gimme That Lovin’” aren’t going to win awards, the bubbling Neville Brothers’ funk groove pushes it into the red. Fans of the retro music associated with the Daptone and Coalmine labels will gravitate to this as Hoyer is clearly aligned with that style and has been since before he received national exposure as a contestant on The Voice doing an explosive cover of the Chi-Lites’ “Oh Girl.”
Roberts recorded the band live in the studio which captures a synergy honed through hundreds of live shows. Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal perfected their approach on stage where it counts, infusing these performances with an electrifying, pulse pounding and well, colossal presence.