CD review JOEL HOEKSTRA’S 13 ‘Running Games’

Guitarist Joel Hoekstra is known for his work with Nightranger, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Whitesnake. In addition, the axe wizard from Iowa City, Iowa also recorded three solo albums before releasing the first Joel Hoekstra’s 13 album.

‘Dying to Live’ was launched in 2015, followed six years later by ‘Running Games’, the sophomore offering. The total of eleven songs are proof that you can hardly resist well-crafted melodic hard rock. It goes without saying that Hoekstra is the driving force behind Joel Hoekstra’s 13, but the album also impresses with a list of musical companions not everyone can present. Russell Allen, Vinny Appice, Tony Franklin, Derek Sherenian and Jeff Scott Soto, they all contribute with passion and dedication with an album that is something to be proud of.

‘Running Games’ starts with a brisk rocker called ‘Finish Line’ which is a great entry into the new album. With an excellent sense for good melodies, the album opens with a song that you can not resist. It’s not that you haven’t heard this kind of stuff before. It’s rather a mixture of melodies, hooks, riffs and attitude that makes the opener, but also ‘How Do You’ and the upbeat ‘Take What’s Mine’ to great rock songs. ‘Reach the Sky’ is also worth mentioning, a thunderous track that hits the ground running. Since the album starts on ‘finish line’, it is the title track that ends ‘Running Games’. The emotional song is a harmonic closing of an album that can be described as very felicitous.

Joel Hoekstra really got everything right on ‘Running Games’. Even if some musical cross-references to the at the beginning mentioned bands shimmer through, ‘Running Games’ nonetheless lives from an originality that excites, a strong musical breeze that blows away any negative notion.

Rating: 8 out of 10.


  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

Label: Frontiers Music

Genre: Melodic Hard Rock

Release Date EU: February 12th, 2021



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