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Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Running Games Award winner

Joel Hoekstra’s 13
Running Games
by Sarah Tijan at 02 April 2021, 7:17 AM

"Running Games", the new album from JOEL HOEKSTRA'S 13, was released on February 12th through Frontiers Records. World-renowned guitarist Joel Hoekstra is no stranger to great music and great performances, as he has performed on Broadway, played alongside CHER, TSO, MOTLEY CRUE, POISON, and countless others as guitarist for WHITESNAKE- which you've probably seen him on guitar, or heard him play a time or two. Additionally, he has also released solo work, the latest being "Running Games".

"Running Games" is the sophomore work in which he added his picks for talent with Russel Allen on Vocals, Vinny Appice and Jeff Scott Soto to name a few. "Running Games" is a stronger, more put together album than 2016's release, still remaining true to Joel’s vision of what a rock guitarist should be. If you are expecting to hear what you would from his current projects like WHITESNAKE, you will be disappointed. This album is clearly Joel taking creative control and creating work out of his own vision.

The lead track "Finish Line" starts the album off, Joel’s guitar and Russel Allen on vocals create a rock and roll power album that takes you on an hour ride through some of the most well put together riffs, notes, and lyrics; leaving you wanting and needing more. “Hard To Say Goodbye" is a melodic masterpiece meant to be heard, showing Joel’s true talent and gift relating to his songwriting ability and hitting a chord that stops you in your tracks. It is a song that demands to be listened to.

Keeping the album going and building is the track "I’m Gonna Lose it", standing at attention, loud and proud, from the first chord, add in the vocals of Allen, the song only builds to create a potential number one without even trying. "Lonely Days" is heavier on the guitar than the previous, proving just how much of a virtuoso Joel is. The track sends the message that he is here to stay, willing to take risks and chances to provide fans with the music they want to hear, knows his way around a guitar, and should be recognized as the talented guitar player that he is.  Strong riffs, and a solo that keeps the track balanced yet edgy, makes it my favorite track of the album.

Perhaps I have a soft spot for guitar, but I think Running Games is a perfect combination of heavy and melodic with songs like "Hard To Say Goodbye" and "Cried Enough For You", to the heavier "Finish Line" and "Take What's Mine". Every part of the album was crafted with the intent to keep rock out there, as a true Rock album, Joel and friends succeeded.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Finish Line
2. I'm Gonna Lose It
3. Hard to Say Goodbye
4. How Do You
5. Heart Attack
6. Fantasy
7. Lonely Days
8. Reach the Sky
9. Cried Enough For You
10. Take What's Mine
11. Running Games
12. Lay Down Your Love (Bonus Track)
Lineup:
Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake/Trans Siberian Orchestra) – Guitars
Russell Allen (Symphony X) – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath/Dio) – Drums
Tony Franklin (The Firm/Blue Murder) – Bass
Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater/Black Country Communion) – Keyboards
Jeff Scott Soto (Journey/Yngwie Malmsteen) – Backing Vocals
Lenny Castro (TOTO) – Guest Percussion
Chloe Lowery (Trans Siberian Orchestra) – Guest Backing Vocals
Dave Eggar (Evanescence/Coldplay) – Guest Cello
Katie Kresek (Adele/Five For Fighting) – Guest Violin, Viola
Record Label: Frontiers Records
     


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Edited 18 April 2021
 

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