Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal mix two parts soul and one part funk to bring a natural winning hand to their new album Natural Born Hustler. This is the group’s fifth studio album and first released by Color Red Studios. The band’s been around since 2012 but their signature sound makes you think they’ve been around forever. They’ve got a great mix of great vocals from Josh, tight horn licks, and in the pocket rhythm that harkens back to classic soul from the late 60s and early 70s. Josh’s transformative vocals set the tone on every tune and will take you on an extended joyful excursion. Read and listen track-by-track and enjoy!
Hustler starts with some darker horn tones and when Josh comes in with the vocal, I’m immediately struck by the powerful presence comparable to David Clayton Thomas of the legendary Blood, Sweat & Tears. There’s a funky guitar midsection and the horns are kicking ass for this great album opener. It’s a song of struggle and survival, “in a world of sink or swim, I ain’t going under.”
Whisper immediately feels old school with a classic horn riff. It brings back memories of Sam Moore of the 60s superduo Sam and Dave. Whisper has a lamenting lyric for a loved one’s return. The lyrics are exhorting the person to return, “the voices sing no louder than a whisper to find your way back home, you’ve been gone so long.” It’s a little ambiguous if it’s sung in the first or third person. Josh’s wailing vocals are in fine form well accented by the horns.
Take Your Time has a real Stax feel with Josh’s soulful vocals along with background vocals and the piano/keys accompaniment. One thing that’s striking about Josh’s vocals are the very emotive quality that comes through especially on this tune. On top of it all, Josh wings right to the end on organ.
Changing conjures up some Otis Redding with a stripped down opening with Josh, Benjamin Kushner on guitar and Harrison El Dorado on drums. As with other tunes, the support from the horns and the background vocals is stellar. The tune is about some self-reflecting about past actions and changing course for improving one’s outlook, “Changing is the hardest thing…that you will ever learn.”
Sunday Lies has a super funky drum opening before starting the title chant, “Sunday Lies.”It a scathing retort to a person that has betrayed the protagonist, Josh. There’s a sarcastic exhortation to “cheer the empty suit” indicative of great anger in the lyrics. The chorus refrain has some great rhythm work with the horns punching it out to the end.
The Night comes out firing on all singers with a power horn line. This one has that TSOP feel. It’s slick when Josh matches the horns note for note.Benjamin Kushner takes a psychedelic turn on guitar during the refrain. Blake DeForest (trumpet) and Luke Annis (trombone) really punch hard on this and this sounds like a classic right down to the closing vocals.
Take My Chances starts with a slinky instrumental riff laying the base for Josh coming with the deep vocals. He’s talking about the uncertainty of life choices – “I never took the easy road, I’m as stubborn as I can be. ” His voice somehow sounds smooth with a hard edge simultaneously. Benjamin Kushner has an extended, silky soul guitar solo midway and Harrison El Dorado holds down tight on the skins. When the full band comes back for the close they are on a roll.
Automatic is a gorgeous ballad sounding a cross between The Dramatics and Lou Rawls. It sounds The singing in rounds on “Automatic” gives it that great old school feel. Blake DeForest has some trumpet highlights her as well. Josh’s “woo, woo, wooing” is perfect to set the feel throughout. I love this tune.
Gimme that Lovin is the funkiest tune on the album with some great rhythm playing and horn work. Josh is slick as ice on the organ work and you can’t sit still to this. Harrison El Dorado has a short drum solo and is locked in on this whole tune. This one feels like it’s straight from New Orleans. Can you hear The Meters?
Ring The Bells is another very retro tune with a strikingly big sound, like many more than just the six members which is also a characteristic of the whole album. They’re definitely in sync and have put in the hours together. As the lyric in this one says, he definitely got it right. Benjamin has another fine solo near the end as we cruise to the end of this fun journey.
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Producer by Eddie Roberts
Josh Hoyer – Vocals, Organ and Piano
Benjamin Kushner – Guitar
Mike Keeling – Bass
Harrison El Dorado – Drums
Blake DeForest – Trumpet
Luke Annis – Trombone
Horn arrangements by Blake DeForest
Music and Lyrics written by Josh Hoyer
Tracking Engineer – Eddie Roberts
Color Red Studios
Overdub Engineer – James Fleege
Silver Street Studios
Mixing Engineer – Eddie Roberts
Color Red Studios
Mastering Engineer – Doug Krebs