Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal – Green Light
10 songs – 44 minutes
Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal have been around since 2012, purveying a distinctive brand of soul and R&B across five studio and three live releases. Their new release, Green Light, contains 10 tracks, all written by singer/keyboardist Hoyer during the COVID-19 pandemic when the band were unable to tour.
Hoyer also produced the album, which was recorded mostly live over a single 48-hour period at Denver’s Mighty Fine Studio. John Macy recorded the original performances, with mixing by James Fleege at Silver Street Studios in Ashland, Nebraska and mastering by Doug Van Sloun at Focus Mastering. Together, they have captured a warm, vibrant sound that underscores the warmth of the music.
Soul Colossal are an impressive band. Featuring Hoyer on Hammond B3, Wurlitzer, piano and baritone saxophone, Benjamin Kushner on guitar, Mike Keeling on bass, Harrison ElDorado on drums, Blake DeForest on trumpet, James Cuato on tenor saxophone, Myles Jasnowski on backing vocals, there is a relaxed tightness of groove that reflects both the number of years the band has been together and the average of 125 shows a year in that period. Hoyer sings with a muscular, weather voice over the horn-infused numbers that sit very clearly in the mid-Western soul category rather than blues, although obviously all the great soul songs are deeply informed by the blues.
Lyrically, Hoyer addresses the environment (in “Harmony”), the current fraught political situation in the USA (in “Beautiful People” and “Mr. One Up”) and more traditional matters of the heart in songs like the funky title track.
Musically, these are top-tapping, dancing songs, often with clever, subtle twists that never interfere with essential momentum of the track but which do emphasize the assurance of the musicians. There are excellent solos throughout the set, in particular Kushner’s guitar turn on “Green Light”, guest Skye Junginger’s saxophone on the fade out of “Crazy Love” and DeForest’s trumpet on “Mr. One Up”, but primarily Green Light puts the spotlight on the songs not the soloists.
The interaction between the musicians is a joy to listen to. On a track like “Beautiful People”, Kushner’s tidy rhythm guitar fits perfectly with the horn stabs and riffs, but there is never a sense of too much going on. No musical toes were trodden on in the making of this record.
If your tastes extend to soul and R&B, you will find much to enjoy in Green Light.