Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal stack the elements and bring them to the table with their fifth full-length studio album, Natural Born Hustler, delivering a modern touch to the mid-century flair of funk, soul, and blues.
Creatively influenced by a golden era in music, the artists and the iconic studio sounds of their time, Hoyer supplies freshness, making this one to keep close by the record player.
Produced by Eddie Roberts of the New Master Sounds, and presented on his Denver based label, Color Red, Natural Born Hustler is recorded straight-to-tape with minimal overdubbing, though studio space led to the horns being laid later.
On keys and organ, Hoyer delivers his blue-eyed soul with a vocal style similar to the late Terry Kath of Chicago and Boz Scaggs. Reminiscent of Stax, Motown, and Muscle Shoals, Hoyer brings them all together with his band, featuring Benjamin Kushner (Guitar), Mike Keeling (Bass), Harrison El Dorado (Drums), Blake DeForest (Trumpet), and Luke Annis (Trombone).
Horns lead the funk with the powerful first track, “Hustler”. Hoyer’s vocals come in a bit muddied, and can occasionally lack clarity and cohesiveness. Some will appreciate the old school quality, while others may argue the vocals are in need of brightening. The psychedelic and witchy sounds continue in the hauntingly soulful, “Whisper,” slowing it down while keeping the groove.
Breezy and empowering, “Take Your Time” sends a message of encouragement to pick up the pieces and not waste life. Throughout the album, Hoyer’s lyrics are so artistically written they’re capable of hitting the listener differently each time they’re heard. An anthem of the times, “The Night” spins the music ‘round with bouncing keys, circulating sound, and horns that bring it all together, finishing it off in a way that wows. Beautiful and elegant, “Automatic” combines the musical sounds of Etta James with a heaping dash of the Temptations. Lyrics take a backseat in “Gimme That Lovin,” allowing the drums and horns to sparkle in the spotlight.
Though lyrics are difficult to understand at times, this music is medicine, and there’s not a dull song on the entire album. Each track is one to appreciate. Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal are a band to look forward to hearing live, where their sound can truly fill the room. Like a smooth glass of bourbon, Natural Born Hustler is timeless and one to be enjoyed.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Take Your Time
– Take My Chances
– The Night
The Big Hit
– The Night