If you are not familiar with guitarist Joel Hoeskstra, his long list of credits also includes Jimi Jamison [RIP], Michael Sweet [Stryper], and Jack Blades [Night Ranger] . This is the second album under the Joel Hoekstra’s 13 name, with much of the same line up. I got the first one from 2015, and thought it was a good hard-rock / metal release, but this – Running Games is a step up, with 11 solid tracks! It gets much better with each listen; can’t wait to get this on in the car. First track “Finish Line” is an easy favorite, sounding very Dio-like; that comes charging out with a heavy riff, great vocals, even the lyrics seem to come off as something Dio could’ve penned. But a great mix of ’80s influenced rockers like “I’m Gonna Lose It”, “Heart Attack”, and “Lonely Days”. There’s a few lighter moment here, such as near ballad “How Do You”, and the acoustic title track – which is totally different to anything else here, but what a great song!
(3) Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – “Finish Line” – Official Music Video – YouTube
Joel Hoekstra, best known to legions of rock fans as the current guitarist for Whitesnake and Trans-Siberian Orchestra (and also known for his work with Night Ranger and the Broadway show Rock of Ages), returns with his sophomore album, “Running Games” from his electrifying solo project, Joel Hoekstra’s 13.
Hoekstra once again handles the bulk of the creative process, overseeing production, songwriting and arranging (music and lyrics), and crafting his vision for this powerful hard rock record. Add Chris Collier’s masterful mixing and the result is ‘70s/’80s classic hard rock with 2020’s muscle. As with the debut, “Running Games” features an all-star cast of musicians including none other than Russell Allen (vocals), Tony Franklin (bass), Vinny Appice (drums), and Derek Sherinian (keyboards). The amazing Jeff Scott Soto also lends a helping hand with background vocals.
(3) Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – “Hard To Say Goodbye” – Official Audio – YouTube
Says Joel, “Years ago, I released three solo albums that were mainly instrumental guitar music. With Joel Hoekstra’s 13, I have started to work on something that showcases my production, writing, and playing in the genre that I’m known for, which is melodic hard rock. “Running Games” is more focused and more mature compared to [debut] “Dying to Live” and hopefully the fans will enjoy it!”
On ‘Running Games’, lyrically Joel focuses on escaping problems both past and present by providing playful, imaginary, and serious takes on the situations.
Long hailed for his astounding, note-perfect guitar playing, Hoekstra’s playing here raises the bar to a new level.
Look out for “Running Games” on February 12, 2021.
I’m Gonna Lose It
Hard To Say Goodbye
How Do You
Reach The Sky
Cried Enough For You
Take What’s Mine
12. Lay Down Your Love (Bonus Track – Digital)
Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake/Trans-Siberian Orchestra) – guitars
Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob) – lead vocals, backing vocals
Vinny Appice (ex-Black Sabbath, DIO) – drums
Tony Franklin (ex-The Firm, Blue Murder) – bass
Derek Sherinian (Sons Of Apollo, Dream Theater, Black Country Communion) – keyboards
Jeff Scott Soto (Sons Of Appollo, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) – backing vocals
Lenny Castro (TOTO) – percussion
Chloe Lowery (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) – backing vocals
Dave Eggar (Evanescence, Coldplay) – cello
Katie Kresek (Adele, Five For Fighting) – violin, viola
(3) Interview with Joel Hoekstra 2021 – YouTube
(3) Joel Hoekstra Interview: Running Games Album Preview – YouTube