In an age where artists get caught up with keeping up with the times and fitting into the conversation, Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal make music for grown folks with their real, authentic songwriting. On March 26, 2021, Hoyer and his musical cohorts will release Natural Born Hustler, his fifth full-length album of timeless songs slated to last through the decades. The LP will come out on Color Red, the music platform founded by Eddie Roberts of The New Mastersounds.
Produced by Eddie Roberts, Natural Born Hustler speaks to fans of early 70s funky blues, doo-wop with a modern twist, and spellbinding psychedelic soul. From start to finish, each song breathes a life of its own into the record and it is evident that Hoyer’s spirited fanbase and eclectic palette of sounds are not confined by age, upbringing, religion, creed, or differences—they are meant for anyone who seeks the medicine of music.
Heavily influenced by artists with timeless appeal, Hoyer recalls listening to classic records by The Temptations and Etta James and reflecting on what makes them shine. “I listen to records—I don’t do singles, he states, “I look for cohesiveness and something that can be listened to on a road trip.” Take a time machine to 40 years from now and ‘Natural Born Hustler’ can easily have a place on a record shelf next to those iconic albums. “Hustler” comes out of the gate swinging as a rallying cry as we face unprecedented times and uncertainty. With its commanding horn lines and swirling organs, it sounds like equal parts Charles Bradley and Baby Huey with funky, gritty vocals from the early 70s and psychedelic soul music of today. “Take Your Time” takes listeners even further back in time drenched with 60s vibes inspired by female vocal greats like Aretha Franklin with backup singers and a groove-oriented full band. “Changing” saunters between the line of 60s inspiration blended with modern soul of artists on Daptone Records.
While striving to keep the sounds timeless, Hoyer does not shy away from topics relevant in today’s climate. “Sunday Lies” calls out the chasm between word and action when those in power corrupt their message. He observes how voter dynamic is often swayed when politicians co-opt their platforms with religious messages that inhibit people of faith to accept the truth. In contrast, “The Night” challenges listeners to let go and “let the evening become the night.” The lyrics reference taking the time to let all of life’s challenges and frustrations dissipate while the night takes you for a ride. “Automatic” exhibits enduring lyrics as a testimony of true love and its ability to make all of life’s woes evaporate when you are in the arms of your lover.
Recording the record at Color Red studios and working with Eddie Roberts as a producer allowed Hoyer to achieve his long-time goal of translating his raw and authentic live sound into the studio format. The live show is where the band shines and the vision was met in the studio to capture the record straight-to-tape in an analog format on the studio’s Tascam 388. The relaxed studio vibe with Roberts at the helm let each song organically form how it is and fit with the band’s mentality—not stressing too much over mistakes, recording live with minimal overdubs, and letting each track breathe a life of its own into the record.
Hailing from the unlikely creative pocket of Lincoln, Nebraska, Hoyer formed Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal in 2012 as a working band to bring music for the people by the people. Known for their magnetic live performances that draw in crowds with their palpably authentic music, the raucous funk and smooth soul emanating from the stage dutifully pays homage to the past soul giants while simultaneously charging forward, piloting themselves into the modern era. Joining Hoyer (keyboards/vocals), the award-winning five-piece band features Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar), and Harrison ElDorado (drums). Inspired by the sounds of Stax, Motown, Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philly, and San Francisco, the band continuously crosses musical boundaries both in style and era and joins forces each show with a common goal – to have the crowd dancing so much they forget even their smallest troubles.
With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the music industry at large to a halt and ceasing national tours, Hoyer remained dedicated to his craft by writing more than another album’s worth of material and continuing to connect to listeners through live streams. Although ‘Natural Born Hustler’ was written before the challenges of 2020, much of the music seemed to prophesy the chaos and delivers the healing power of soul music for listeners. Currently, the band is preparing old and new material alike for the upcoming 2021 tours once they can get back to work and is poised to lift people up and bring people together with their live show. After having so much time to think about the art form in this downtime, Hoyer realizes now, more than ever, the magic and medicine of congregating with the sanctity of live music.
Photo credit: James Dean