Joel Hoekstra’s 13 –Running Games


It is plain obvious that Joel Hoekstra’s career is in an upward trajectory in the last decade or so. We get acquainted with him mainly from his stint in Night Ranger and then Coverdale took notice of him and recruited him in the mighty Whitesnake. Hoekstra also plays with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Cher. Not bad at all, if you ask me…

What I really like about Joel Hoekstra’s 13 is the notion that this won’t be another series of instrumental albums that they refer to –almost by definition- to an eclectic audience. Not by any chance. This is pure melodic hard rock with powerful production that is so missed in the genre nowadays. The emphasis is given to the composition and not to the technical proficiency which is after all guaranteed! The debut album (“Dying To Live”) paved the way and now “Running Games” picks up where its predecessor stopped with the additional epic element that can be found almost throughout the record. This is definitely a step up for Hoekstra who is accompanied by stellar names like Russell Allen, Derek Sherinian, Vinny Appice, Tony Franklin, Jeff Scott Soto etc.

“Running Games” is a more coherent album and the aforementioned epic element –mainly cued from Allen’s unmistakable voice and the pompous production- gives the album a much needed diversity. But Hoekstra absolutely shines when he sticks to the pure melodic side thus the more “commercial” cuts like “How Do You”, “Lonely Days”, “Hard To Say Goodbye” are the absolute highlights. All in all, this is one of the most promising hard rock albums of 2021 and truth be told here; we wouldn’t expect anything less from Hoekstra.

Highlight: Lenny Castro, Dave Eggar, Chloe Lowery, Katie Kresek are also special guests on the album.