Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal – Green Light (2022)

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal - Green Light (2022)
Artist: Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal
Album: Green Light
Year Of Release: 2022
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Tracklist:
01. Evolution (4:09)
02. Loneliness (2:57)
03. Harmony (4:53)
04. Mirrors (5:21)
05. Mr. One Up (4:30)
06. Green Light (4:04)
07. Beautiful People (4:42)
08. Business As Usual (4:25)
09. Crazy Love (4:48)
10. Shou Shou Do (3:44)

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On the title song of Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal’s new album, Hoyer promises: “Give me the green light, I’m gonna get on down.”

Boy does he ever. Summoning up variations of classic horn-stoked soul and R&B, Hoyer and his five band mates offer up irresistible grooves that can’t help but get the body moving. But like the best of the music that has inspired them, on Green Light set for release on October 21st, the Lincoln, Nebraska, sextet also engages the head and the heart. So, all that getting down also results in a lot of getting up, as in spiritual uplift. As Hoyer puts it on the set-opening “Evolution,” “There’s something going on here.”

That number, which opens the album with a rat-tat-tat horn fanfare that immediately grabs your attention and contains the observation, “What we need is a sanity injection,” is one of several that speak to the times while conveying a timeless resonance.

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal have lived up to their name for the past decade, spreading bold yet nuanced soul/R&B through constant touring and regular releases. Averaging 125 shows a year and already eight albums deep (including live releases), the ultra-authentic sextet is sharing the healing power of love and empathy through melody, lyricism, groove, and dance.

Hoyer formed Soul Colossal in 2012, completing the award-winning band with Stephen Cantarero (bass), James Cuato (sax), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Harrison ElDorado (drums), and Benjamin Kushner (guitar). Hoyer handles Hammond organ, electric piano, and lead vocals.

“Whether it gives people courage or solace, joy or a place to heal, that is what my creations are for,” asserts Hoyer. “To show them that they are not alone. To bring people together.”

The introspective “Loneliness,” with its languid country-soul echoes, sounds like a dispatch from the pandemic. That segues into the more upbeat “Harmony.” With its piano-accented funkiness, it’s one of many numbers here that carry gospel undercurrents. They include the slow, reflective “Mirrors,” in which Hoyer adopts a preacherly tone for the song’s insight: “Looking through mirrors instead of windows, you can go your whole life never questioning what you know.” Later, “Beautiful People” actually includes a sermon-like recitation.

On the politically charged “Mr. One-Up,” Hoyer considers: “Tell me, why’s he gotta lie to get over?,” and on “Business as Usual,” he ponders another question: “Tell me what’s the difference between me and you, brother?”

Those are not the only kinds of issues on the mind of Hoyer, who wrote and arranged all the songs. The tender, devotional “Crazy Love,” for one, celebrates just that, while “Shou Shou Do” closes the album with a lighthearted blast that seems to have nothing more on its mind than filling the dance floor.

The singer can flirt with sappiness: “If the people loved each other, the world would be a better place to live in,” he declares on “Beautiful People.” But Hoyer, who also plays Hammond B3, piano, Wurlitzer, and baritone sax, has a warm, deep voice with just enough grit and delivers just about everything with the righteously testifying conviction of a true soul man.

He and the band also learned from the masters to keep things tight. Green Light’s 10 songs clock in at just 43 minutes. So while the thrilling ensemble playing makes way for solos – whether a sax on “Evolution,” a trumpet on “Mr. One-Up,” or a guitar on “Green Light” – they are always concise and never slow the songs’ momentum.

Back on “Green Light,” Hoyer also notes: “Be good for you and me to get funky.” He and Soul Colossal make that an invitation that’s impossible to decline.
By Nick Cristiano

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