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HMS Music Spotlight

The man of many bands returns to the studio to record his 4th solo record. For me, this is one I have been waiting for. His records have been moving, edgy and emotional.

Never alone on making his records, he has always brought in many a talent like rockers Dave Eggar (Evanessance), Rob Clores (The Black Crows) and jazzbos Joel Rosenblatt (Spyro Jyra) and Ric Fierabracci of Chick Corea’s band. Now with two amazing singers in his arsenal - Russel Allen of Symphony X and Jeff Scott Soto of Trans-Siberian Orchestra /SOTO and the rhythm section from hell, Vinnie Appice (Black Sabbath/DIO) and Tony Franklin (Blue Murder/The Firm) Joel and co. give us an old school hard rock beat down. Chloe Lawery from TSO/Chameleon makes a guest appearance also. As you can see, it’s an all-star cast (again) for this solo release.

Now on with the show; the record starts hard with “Say Goodbye To The Sun” and “Anymore”; two great ways to kick this off. You get the power of Prog vocals against some serious, straight forward Rock and it blends together here in the mix. Listening on, “Until I Left You” has that late 80’s groove and has a killer fretless bass doing some nice fills in the breakdown. “Long For The Days” gets an early Whitesnake feel with soft keyboards and soulful vocals.

My personal favorite here is “Scream”. Powerful, riffy and a solo that takes off in two different directions and the breakdown before the solo punches you repeatedly until you’re dizzy, but the solo is the coup-de-grace. “Never Say Never” is the anthem of the album here encouraging the listener to, 1 - listen close to the words of the song; 2 - never give up and 3 - don’t stop rockin’. If the intro doesn’t pull you in, the riffs will.

The ballad, “Changes” has these wide open sounds that make you feel like you’re flying through the clouds. There’s no rest after this song because “The Ony Way to Go” comes in with a vengeance with its funky riffs and beefy bass line. “Dying to Live” starts of a little spacy then moves into a hard rhythm. This one has a couple of expletives, but it’s not done in poor form. The angst of the song and frustration in the lyrics shows need for one to break out and spill a few words along the way. I can’t wait for this to be a video!

Joel Hoekstra’s 13
Dying To Live
(Universal Music)
Written by: Tim Duran
9 out of 10

I sense a little of The Who and Cheap Trick in the next song “Start Again” and ending with a wonderful 12 string driven duet with Cloe Lawery. “What We Believe” just sails along, crashing through the crests of waves and floating calmly. For this type of record, it is the perfect song to end with.

Downside is the two ballads. They tend to have the Whitesnake sound, but lovely in their own right. Upside is how all these songs have a story behind them and they make you feel every emotion that went into them. This has got to be my favorite guitar record for this year; soulful, exciting, adventurous and an all-around hard rocking record. Joel Hoekstra’s band 13 “Dying To Live” album gets a solid 9. Go get it on

Tim Duran, HMS

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