Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal – Running From Love
Silver Street Records
10 songs – 45 minutes
Nebraska-based singer/keyboard/songwriter Josh Hoyer turns up the heat to deliver a strong dose of old-school soul laced with blues overtones on this CD, fronting his tight band, Soul Colossal.
A former BluesBlast Awards nominee as Best New Artist when fronting his old unit, the Shadowboxers, which featured a full horn section and three female backup singers, Hoyer’s current unit is stripped to the basics, but still delivers a red-hot mix of original tunes that deliver a positive message while keeping fans up on the dance floor.
After long stints learning his craft in New Orleans and putting it to good use in the Pacific Northwest, Hoyer returned home to Lincoln, where he books bands for the legendary Zoo Bar during breaks from a national touring schedule that included 150 dates in 32 states last year alone, including dates where the band shared the bill with Booker T. Jones of MGs fame and funk master George Clinton.
Produced by Ken Coomer, whose credits include work with Wilco and Uncle Tupelo, this is the band’s fourth disc and third full-length CD since forming in 2012, two of which – Living By The Minute and Cooked Raw – debuted last year. Hoyer’s accompanied by longtime partners Benny Kushner on guitar, Mike Dee on saxophone and Josh Barger on bass as well as Kenneth “Memphis” Shepherd on drums and Marcus Lewis on trombone, all of whom assisted in writing the material. They’re aided by Coomer, who adds percussion, and Angie Primm and Gale Mayes, who provide backing vocals.
Recorded at the historic Sound Emporium in Nashville and released on vinyl in addition to CD and digital format, the funky minor-key title tune, “Running From Love,” sets the tone for what follows as Hoyer delivers a cautionary warning in rich, smoky, road-worn baritone that clearly puts his Crescent City background on display while giving his band space to have their musical say. The message: “It’s time that we ask ourselves why we try to make each other’s life so hard.”
“Parts Of A Man” is a smooth, slow-paced Memphis-style ballad that praises a lady for loving him the way she does and putting all the pieces of his soul together to make him the man he is today. The tribute continues in the sweet, medium shuffle “What We Got,” which juxtaposes the desire to remain in the fast lane and achieving more while also appreciating what he has at home. The horns kick off “Mixed Bag,” a syncopated number about handling a life in which you take two steps forward and one step back, before “Searchers,” which begins with a Latin feel, but quickly evolves into a fast-paced complaint about folks using one another as it delivers a plea for universal love and understanding atop a rapid, regimented drumbeat.
“Talk To Me” is an original, not the ‘60s hit by Little Willie John or the different Stevie Nicks chart-topper. This one is a tender plea for communication in a relationship where both parties appear to be unapproachable. “The Evening Train” follows. It’s a lament about riding the rails and wishing to make a bad situation right with a loved one.
The theme continues for “Knockout.” This time, it’s a statement that, even in the best relationship, evil lurks close by and even a simple glance at the wrong time can cause problems that last what seems to be an eternity. The disc concludes with “Natural,” which describes searching for love rather than just letting it happen, and “Soul Mechanic,” a plea for a repairman to set things right after being down for too long.
Available through Amazon, iTunes, Spotify or directly through the band website (address above), Running From Love is music for modern times. The blues runs deep in this one. While the musical approach is a little bit more upscale that most straight-ahead blues bands, Hoyer and Soul Colossal are totally soulful and have plenty to say. Each tune is a life lesson unto itself. Don’t hesitate to pick it up if your tastes run in that vein.