Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal have lived up to their name for the past decade, spreading bold yet nuanced soul/R&B through constant touring and regular releases. Averaging 125 shows a year and already eight albums deep (including live releases), the ultra-authentic sextet is sharing the healing power of love and empathy through melody, lyricism, groove, and dance.
“Moving people through the power of soul music, that’s what it’s all about,” says Hoyer of his band’s sixth studio album, Green Light, scheduled for release on October 21, 2022. “You’ll hear the sounds of pain, solitude and spiritual reckoning – a heartfelt reaction to the realities of today.”
A performer since childhood, Hoyer discovered his songwriter’s voice through high school jazz choir improvisation. He later honed his talent with years of jamming in the famed blues and roots scene of his native Lincoln, Nebraska, and its legendary Zoo Bar. Having further shaped his songcraft with spells in Oregon and New Orleans, he returned to Lincoln where he was mentored by the likes of Little Jimmy Valentine of The Heart Murmurs, renowned bluesman Magic Slim, and late guitarist/singer Sean Benjamin. “Hoyer sang with fire and a natural joy,” raved Rolling Stone after his powerhouse performance on Season 12 of NBC’s The Voice (Team Blake).
Hoyer formed Soul Colossal in 2012, completing the award-winning band with Stephen Cantarero (bass), James Cuato (sax), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Harrison ElDorado (drums), and Benjamin Kushner (guitar). Hoyer handles Hammond organ, electric piano, and lead vocals.
Night after night, Hoyer & Soul Colossal leave it all on stage, passionately delivering their fresh take on super-relatable soul music coast-to-coast and across Europe. Visceral, gutsy, and relentlessly real, they channel Stax, Motown, and Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philly, and San Francisco through Hoyer’s cultured compositions, lived-in vocals, and supple, horn-flecked arrangements. Smoky late-night vibes and sometimes playful arrangements cradle thought-provoking lyrics, virtuoso musicianship, and uplifting sentiments that linger long after the show.
Highlights have included headlining European festivals, playing major U.S. fests, and sharing bills with Booker T Jones, Irma Thomas, The Muscle Shoals Revue and George Clinton. In the studio, they’ve worked with Wilco’s Ken Coomer and New Mastersounds’ Eddie Roberts.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Hoyer off the road but also gave him time to take pause and patiently craft the album of his life in Green Light. The result is an instant genre classic that can be savored as a coherent yet emotionally dynamic collection or as ten standalone singles, each distinct in tone, identity, and message.
“This album was my therapy and way of making sense of all the turmoil,” Hoyer reflects. “Music that would serve both as a time capsule and a lasting message of reckoning and hope.”
Green Light is effectively a “best of” that era, culled from around 40 songs. Its title references both the “green light” given to the music world to return after lockdown and the “go” signal for Soul Colossal to motor into the mainstream after years of under-the-radar acclaim and adulation.
The entire Hoyer-produced album was tracked, mostly live, in less than 48 hours at Denver’s Mighty Fine Studios and mixed by James Fleege at Silver Street Studios in Ashland, Nebraska.
The love, sweat, and tears poured into Green Light are palpable in its elevated songwriting, eloquent lyrics, taut performances, and Hoyer’s tingly emotive vocals. It communicates on multiple levels, shaking booties while shaking off complacency. Both a celebration and a call to action, a sharing of and a shelter from universal angst, Green Light is a timeless record that far transcends its instant-gratification good vibes and irresistible, sinewy grooves.
Listen closely and you’ll hear New Orleans parade beats, vibrant Detroit and New York R&B, and the funky stylings of Rufus Thomas and his Stax Records cohorts. Repeat spins reveal echoes of Donny Hathaway’s spiritual ruminations, the worldly heartache of Charles Bradley, and the chordal complexities of Herbie Hancock and early ‘70s Santana.
Buoyant first single and album opener “Evolution” reflects Hoyer’s realization that the pandemic presented a golden moment of understanding how connected our world has become and the importance of focusing our reverberating actions on evolution rather than further division.
My friends, the one constant in life is change. The Human race can choose to change for the better or for the worse. This song is a call to action to people all over the world, no matter their lot, to make a change for the positive. “Evolution” was inspired by the realizations of how connected we are globally via our experience with the Covid pandemic, climate change and political strife.
Follow-up “Mirrors” slinkily expands on that theme, inviting frank self-reflection and eye-opening education while questioning how, and from whom, we form opinions. The subtly funky “Harmony” explores our place as stewards of the planet while, on a lighter note, nimble album closer “Shou Shou Do” employs the “silly language” Hoyer speaks with his daughters.
“This is our masterpiece so far … full of great playing and sincere truths,” offers Hoyer. “It stays true to our sound that we have cultivated over the years, but with it we added a steadfast focus to make something fantastic that we would be happy with one hundred percent.”
Expect Green Light to propel Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal toward further headlining slots, high-profile tours, and into speakers and ears wherever an honest, singular, and richly soulful voice – musically and emotionally – is cried out for.