Joel Hoekstra's 13 Dying To Live
Joel Hoekstra's 13 release their debut cd Dying To Live out on Frontiers Records Srl on October the 16th.
Joel has released 3 mainly instrumental albums over the last decade but with his profile on the rise through stints with Rock Of Ages on Broadway,Trans Siberian Orchestra,Night Ranger and now with Whitesnake now is the right time for his first project with him writing all of the music and lyrics and producing too.
It is a nice place to be when you can call on the creme de la creme of the rock scene to play on your cd and the list is stellar.
On vocals is Russell Allen (Symphony X,Adrenaline Mob) and Jeff Scott
Soto(Journey,Yngwie Malmsteen) with a rhythm team of Tony Franklin(The Firm) on bass and Vinny Appice(Dio,Black Sabbath)on drums.Derek Sherinian(Dream Theater,Black Country Communion)adds depth on keyboards while Charlie Zeleny (Joe Lynn Turner) on percussion and Coldplay’s Dave Egger on cello round out the band with some added background vocals by Toby Hitchcock(Pride Of Lions).
There is one more special guest vocalist but we will get to that later.
When you think of a guitarist's solo project you would think it would be one continuous shred fest saying look at me and that's what makes this cd so special is that it isn't like that at all.Yes Joel shows off his undoubted talents at times but this is about the whole package and every person involved plays their part and that is refreshing.
In my recent interview Joel described the album as Dio at it's heaviest and Foreigner at it's lightest and if the man himself says that then that is good enough for me and is a great description of what lies within.
When you have 2 vocalist's on a cd on seperate songs the flow can rise and fall through out but on this project the 2 voices fit together superbly.The original idea was for Russell to do it all with Jeff just on backing vocals but it was then decided for them to do half and half and in my opinion it works magnificently.Both put their heart and soul into it and the backing vocal's they do on each other's tracks see their voices moulding together.
Opener say Goodbye To The Sun sees Russell on lead although you hear Jeff's backing vocals first on a track at the heavier end of the spectrum with Vinny powering the song full of his trademark flair and fills.Derek's Hammond work fills out the gaps of Joel's stop start guitar riff on the verse and Russell sings with some real venom and Joel's solo is sharp and to the point.
Anymore sees a swirling Derek Hammond riff that wraps itself on Joel's guitar on an upbeat rocker that takes it down on a notch on the opener but with plenty to admire as Vinny drives the song as only he can.Russell shows of his full range as the song dips in the middle and Joel adds some impressive added leads on the second verse and I love the outro with Joel again adding lead work alongside Russell's lead vocal and Jeff's backing vocals.
Until I Left You sees Jeff's first lead vocal on a song built for sunny days and the roof down on the car and the volume turned to 11.More AOR in style with Russell's backing vocals backing up a song that Jeff just had to sing!!
Long For The Days sees Russell on lead and his passionate delivery on a slower tempo track that builds to the chorus is superb.Jeff's backing vocal on the chorus makes the song soar ever higher.The mid song bridge before the guitar solo as the band slow sees cello added and gives the song even more depth.
Scream does just that with a heavy rocker built on a chugging guitar riff and Derek's Hammond adding depth to the mix.The chorus sees Russell joining Jeff on lead as they both give it everything they have.Derek then has a lengthy Hammond solo with a real Deep Purple feel to it before Joel unleashes a killer solo.I'm sure this would be a live favourite!!Joel adds another solo to the outro fighting to be heard alongside the 2 vocal lines.
Never Say Never sees Russell on lead on a mid tempo rocker built on Joel's stop start guitar riff and Vinny's drum rhythm and is just a great track.Up beat superb vocal line and everyone plays their part and that is what makes the album so great as you are listening to it all and topped with a great production that let's it all breathe.
Changes takes it down a notch on a Russell vocal with huge whoa whoa backing vocals pre chorus on something that would fit the Foreigner mould.
The Only Way To Go has a repetitive jabbing guitar riff that changes to a stop start riff as Jeff kicks in and it all builds to a huge chorus chock full of vocals and that repetitive riff then reappears.Jeff's vocal has a bit of added bite to it and shows off his tone superbly.
The title track Dying To Live has Russell on lead and a tougher edge to his vocal on a song that changes pace as the chorus kicks in and Vinny goes up a notch or two.Russell spits out the lyric on the chorus before Joel's fast fingered guitar solo again shows his class by not over playing it.
Start Again sees Jeff back in familiar territory on an upbeat AOR style song that brings a smile to my face again and again.Acoustic guitar moulds well with keys and again the backing vocals on the chorus are perfect before Derek's keys solo soars.
What We Believe ends the cd in stunning style.A vocal duet with Jeff joined by Chloe Lowery from Trans Siberian Orchestra on the albums' only true ballad led by Joel's acoustic playing.Their 2 voices work incredibly well together as the song ebbs and flows.
Mid song I get a feeling Joel's work on Broadway takes over as the song dips to near silence.Then the 2 voices build and build while Vinny starts a crushing drum rhythm and Joel solo's as it continues to build to a vocal and musical tour de force.
Wow what an ending on the best ballad of the year easy.
Joel Hoekstra has produced an album that sets the benchmark incredibly high for all releases to follow in terms of quality writing and performance and attention to detail.
He has proved that solo albums can be seen as a whole package and not just something for one's ego and let us hope we see more from him as Dying To Live will be in many people's Best Of List's come the end of 2015.