Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal
3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Soulful rocker Josh Hoyer and his band may not have reached the mainstream in the same way as the similarly horn-infused Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats or St. Paul & the Broken Bones, but it’s not for lack of trying. This is the outfit’s ninth, and arguably best, album in a decade-long career; one that also finds the sextet on the road nearly half of every year.
So much for overnight success.
You can hear the miles traveled in Hoyer’s husky voice, influenced in equal parts by classic R& B shouters like Wilson Pickett and the more measured grit of fellow blue-eyed soul contemporaries such as Anderson East. Add some Southside Johnny attitude and Isley Brothers’ boldness and, well, you get the picture.
Hoyer isn’t trying to push any boundaries, just delivering honest, passionate, mid-Western soul informed by the music of the Memphis, Detroit, and Chicago scenes from decades ago. He even moves into greasy funk, specifically on the grinding title track. That’s where he sings an appeal to a romantic interest to move the relationship to the next phase with My love is the highest healer/Come on and let me show you now as the band throbs and pulses behind him.
Lyrics are often topical, encouraging togetherness in these politically divisive times on “Beautiful People,” or cautionary about how respecting the environment is an essential part of the future in “Harmony” (Nature can bring us to our knees if there is no harmony). The political “Mr. One Up” speaks to electing a person who Bullies you with threats because he lacks persuasion above a tough yet tensile beat.
The music vibrates with taut, rugged professionalism gained through a decade of work sweating it out in dusky bars and small clubs. That’s particularly true of the horns which punctuate and add punch to the tunes.
However, this is clearly Hoyer’s show. He not only wrote all the songs but produces and sings with the gutsy conviction of a talented guy primed to move to the next level.
Perhaps the impressive Green Light will accomplish that.
Courtesy Hello Wendy PR