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Joel Hoekstra's 13: Running Games
Joel Hoekstra's 13 - Running Games Album Art

Joel Hoekstra's 13: Running Games

Melodic Hard Rock
4.5/5.0

We know guitarist and composer Joel Hoekstra from his current service with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Whitesnake. But the veteran guitarist has also dropped three instrumental guitar albums. Additionally, in 2015, Hoekstra introduced us to Joel Hoekstra's 13 and Dying To Live wherein he offered us classic melodic hard rock with vocal arrangements. And so he returns to the same with Running Games featuring the musicians from the previous album. These include Russell Allen (vocals), Tony Franklin (bass), Vinny Appice (drums), and Derek Sherinian (keyboards) with Jeff Scott Soto on backing vocals.

Joel Hoekstra - Click For Larger Image

Joel Hoekstra

So, essentially what we have with Running Games is quite guitar-forward melodic hard rock featuring Hoekstra's substantial fret work. Most arrangements offer a sharp riff and rhythm section start where after the vocal arrangement drops in, the rhythm and groove move quickly, and things lead to an impressive Hoekstra guitar solo. You'll find this with I'm Gonna Lose It, Heart Attack, Fantasy, and Finishing Line. Listening to the sharp riffs and the thick rhythm section, some might call this melodic metal rock. But perhaps we're just splitting hairs here. Hoekstra has a strong sense of song melody and harmony bolstered by the vocal arrangements and catchy refrains. This comes through with Hard To Say Goodbye, I'm Gonna Lose It, and How Do You. That latter song is an example how Hoekstra tempers a rather heavy and dense song with tandem play of acoustic guitar with vocals. You'll find something similar with the heavy ballad Cried Enough For You where moments of acoustic guitar and voice are juxtaposed with riff heavy parts to drive the song forward. With the closing number it's all Allen's voice accompanied by Hoekstra's pleasing acoustic guitar work. Finally, within several songs, such as Take What's Mine and Hard To Say Goodbye you'll find Hoekstra's guitar solo tag teamed with Sherinian's keyboards.

Briefly considered, Joel Hoekstra's Running Games is another entertaining album of his classic melodic hard rock propelled by his solid songwriting and impressive guitar work. Easily recommended.




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The Bottom Line

Briefly considered, Joel Hoekstra's Running Games is another entertaining album of his classic melodic hard rock propelled by his solid songwriting and impressive guitar work. Easily recommended.

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