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Joel Hoekstra's 13
Dying To Live
Released: 2015, Frontiers Records
Joel Hoekstra’s had quite a ride over the past couple of years. Although he’s been quite active in various guest guitarist roles since the early 2000’s, he really started getting notice for his excellent guitar work in Night Ranger, which he’s followed up by replacing Doug Aldrich in Whitesnake, no doubt his highest-profile gig. Having connections at Frontiers Records is never a bad thing either, as it’s afforded him the opportunity to record and release his fourth solo album, DYING TO LIVE, alongside a star-studded supporting cast.
For those familiar with Hoekstra’s work with his “day job” bands, DYING TO LIVE will come as no surprise – it fits seamlessly within those bands’ hard rock/ heavy metal styles. If anything, this album is actually heavier than what fans will be used to from Hoekstra. Musically, cuts like “Scream” and the title track are downright vicious while still retaining a canny sense of melody. Other tracks like “Start Again” and “Never Say Never” are more hard rock oriented and will definitely appeal to Hoekstra’s established fan base.
Although this is billed as a solo album, the fact that Hoekstra’s got not one, but two world-class vocalists singing his songs makes the whole project feel more like a super group. Obviously, when you’ve got singers the calibre of Jeff Scott Soto and Russell Allen, you’d be stupid not to allow them to shine, and Hoekstra gives them plenty of space to show off. It’s nearly an even split between the two vocalists across the 11 tracks. As for the “star”, Hoekstra’s shrewd song writing is the true highlight, but his guitar playing is equally impressive. And while I haven’t touched on the rhythm section, all I really need to say is that it’s Tony Franklin and Vinny Appice, so you know they create the perfect musical bedrock.
While not every song is amazing, DYING TO LIVE is an astoundingly good album. Fans of any of the participants’ regular bands shouldn’t hesitate to pick this up.
1. Say Goodbye to the Sun
3. Until I Left You
4. Long for the Days
6. Never Say Never
8. The Only Way to Go
9. Dying to Live
10. Start Again
11. What We Believe
Joel Hoekstra: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Russell Allen: Lead Vocals
Jeff Scott Soto: Lead Vocals
Vinny Appice: Drums
Tony Franklin: Bass
Derek Sherinian: Keyboards
Chloe Lowery: Vocals
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