Joel Hoekstra’s 13 // Crash of Life // Album Review


Joel Hoekstra, best known as a guitarist for Night Ranger, then alongside Reb Beach in Whitesnake for the last nine years, has released several solo albums and this marks the third under the name Joel Hoekstra’s 13. All songs are written and produced by Joel – this album features Girish Pradhan of Indian rockers GATC on lead vocals and a superb line-up of Tony Franklin of Blue Murder and The Firm on bass, rock legend Vinnie Appice on drums, and Derek Sherinan of Sons of Apollo and Black Country Communion on keyboards. The album also benefits from the backing vocals of Jeff Scott Soto.

An intro with a pure guitar tone reminiscent of Steve Vai’s early solo albums smashes us into the first track, ‘Everybody Knows Everything’. Girish’s vocal skills mixed with Derek Sherinan’s keyboard expertise and Joel’s melodic riffing are immediately served up as we are led into a commentary on today’s society, asking ‘Don’t you ever think about what you think?’.

The title track in particular features a welcome use of unusual stereo sound staging with instrumental parts sometimes flying across from one side to the other as part of this upbeat track. A listen on a decent pair of headphones pays dividends with this album!

In ‘Damaged Goods’, Jeff Scott Soto’s backing vocals are prominent as Joel’s exemplary guitar skills release a flood of squealing pinch harmonics accompanying this musically complex track. Tony Franklin is no slouch in the bass department either. The tempo slows as we move into ‘Torn into Lies’ a well-executed and melodic rock ballad. If anything, this track is a little too polished for its own good, but a classy example, nevertheless.

‘Far too Deep’ chugs along into an industrial mill of psychological analysis accompanied by Girish’s tortured vocal, the bridge leads into a guitar solo and we’re thrown back into the whirlpool of pain. A memorable track for sure. The unconventional staccato verse of ‘Not Tonight’ leads into a more everyday and slightly clichéd heart-rending chorus, but not a filler by any means. ‘Over You’ continues in a similar vein with a Whitesnake-style power ballad, lamenting a lost love.

Back to a more upbeat feel with the riff-tastic ‘I would Cry for Love’ an instantly memorable chorus, plenty of tasteful guitar histrionics and a keyboard solo thrown in. ‘Don’t have Words’ continues the Whitesnake feel to parts of this album, an accomplished and rocking track. ‘Find a Way’ takes its own path with a more vintage Deep Purple style, a distinctive intro riff and even featuring a duelling Hammond vs guitar section.

‘You’re Right for Me’ swings into a southern-melodic rock feel with a raucous love song then ‘Through the Night’ marks a sweet end to this album with a Foreigner-style ballad.

This album is worth more than one listen – it grows on you. If you’re a fan of the heavy side of AOR and/or classic rock and appreciate a few ballads along the way, I heartily recommend that you give it a go!

Review: Dave Smith Price 


“Crash Of Life” track-listing:
1. Everybody Knows Everything
2. Crash Of Life
3. Damaged Goods
4. Torn Into Lies
5. Far Too Deep
6. Not Tonight
7. Over You
8. I Would Cry For Love
9. Don’t Have Words
10. Find A Way
11. You’re Right For Me
12. Through The Night

Joel Hoekstra -Guitars
Girish Pradhan -Lead Vocals
Vinny Appice -Drums
Tony Franklin -Bass
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards
Jeff Scott Soto- Backing Vocals

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