Over the years, I’ve interviewed and befriended Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain of Journey, and I’ve seen the band perform live numerous times. I also attended Journey’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame because I thought it might be my only chance to see Steve Perry live. While I was disappointed that he didn’t sing with the band that night, when he walked out onto the stage my cousin and I jumped up and started screaming from the cheap seats like the diehard Steve Perry and Journey fans we are. It was a special moment that made our trip to Brooklyn absolutely worth it.
For several years, Steve Perry has talked about releasing new music. Years have come and gone with no new songs, so I was thrilled when his new album, Traces, was announced. I immediately pre-ordered an autographed copy of the deluxe album and eagerly awaited its arrival. Having listened to it several times, I can say that I’m completely satisfied with the music. Steve Perry’s voice is the same mature and raspy one I loved on Journey’s reunion album, Trial By Fire, and his unmistakable tone and phrasing have returned in all their glory. There are only two rockers on this album, with the rest of the songs being slower-tempo numbers but I’m perfectly fine with that. Steve Perry was never the rocker in the band, Neal Schon was, and this album is a representation of Steve Perry in 2018, not 1981. If you want a Journey album, there are many to choose from. If you want an expertly executed musical tapestry from the definitive male singer of our time, look no further. Steve Perry’s back and I couldn’t be happier.
“No Erasin” – This is the perfect lead single and track for this album. With the opening line “I know it’s been a long time comin’ since I saw your face,” it’s a great nod to Steve Perry’s hiatus and a celebration of his return.
“We’re Still Here” – This is currently my favorite song on the album. The chorus is gorgeous, the lyrics are evocative, and the vocals sublime. It doesn’t get any better than this.
“Most Of All” – Similar to “We’re Still Here,” this song has a hauntingly beautiful quality to it with a catchy chorus. That makes for three winners in a row.
“No More Cryin” – A gospel and R&B-infused song with a chorus that will get stuck in your head after a single listen. The subject matter is sad but the delivery will make you smile.
“In The Rain” – This somber piano-driven ballad reminds me of a stripped-down version of “It’s Just The Rain” from Trial By Fire, probably because of the piano and vocal. It’s excellent.
“Sun Shines Gray” – Written with John 5, this is the second rocker on Traces and it has a harder edge than “No Erasin.” Its placement provides a breath of fresh air in this exquisite album.
“You Belong To Me” – I love this song, especially the recurring “Was it you or was it I?” line. It’s a soulful piano ballad with great harmonies and even better phrasing. Perryisms abound.
“Easy To Love” – The name of this song reminds me of “Lovin’ You Is Easy” from Evolution. Its mid-tempo reggae style suits Steve Perry’s voice perfectly and is an enjoyable listen from start to finish.
“I Need You” – I almost never listen to The Beatles for pleasure but their influence is vast. While I’ve never heard this song before, this cover is a short and sweet number that fits in nicely with the rest of the album.
“We Fly” – A moody ballad that starts off with only Steve Perry’s voice and incorporates atmospheric keyboards as the song progresses. The line “You were the reason love was our season” conjures up images of “Summer of Luv” from his Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased album.
“October In New York” – An incredibly slow-paced song that seems to embody the heartache Steve Perry feels about losing his girlfriend who passed away from cancer. The orchestration is beautiful, the vocal impassioned, and the lyrics poignant.
“Angel Eyes” – This upbeat R&B song is a spiritual successor to “I Believe” from Street Talk and it’s one of my favorites on this album. It’s worth buying the deluxe version of Traces for this song alone.
“Call On Me” – Another mid-tempo reggae number, this song is reminiscent of “Baby I’m A Leavin’ You” from Trial By Fire. It’s the second best bonus track on the deluxe version of Traces.
“Could We Be Somethin’ Again” – A fun, catchy song wrapped in a soulful vocal. It won’t blow you away but it’s enjoyable nevertheless.
“Blue Jays Fly” – Like “October In New York,” this song is moody. In the beginning, it’s sung in a whisper. Just Steve Perry, a keyboard, and a ton of emotions. It’s a reflective song about longing for someone who’s gone, which encapsulates the entire theme of the album. That said, it’s a gloomy way to close out Traces.
Traces is an excellent album and it’s exactly what I expected from Steve Perry in 2018. If you’re well versed in his solo music, you’ll feel the same way. I sincerely hope that Steve Perry will tour again. Since Steve Perry has already taken the huge step of releasing a new album, which has rekindled his passion for music, why not bring his music to the people in a live setting? One can only hope.
Love his voice!!! I’m hoping that he tours so I can see him!
I cant wait to get my CD preordered. I have been in love with Steve since I was 17. His music has always been there for me through so much. Bless you Steve. I love “No Erasin”…
Awesome review!!! Steve is my HERO!!! This new CD has been the best thing that has happened to me in many years!! I have been crazy over him for 35+ years now, no other voice can ever compare!! This new one was everything I knew it would be. I put mine on at 5 this afternoon and it’s still playing at 9:50, I’m one happy camper!!
Thanks! I’m glad you liked my review and that you’re enjoying Steve’s new album.
The album, which I purchased the MP3 version of from Amazon, was released just a few hours ago in the UK. We only have up to the track ‘We Fly’ available at the moment. Thankfully a friend from the US is sending me the extended version on CD. I have just listened to the songs that are available on the UK album release in their entirety for the first time. This album has left me in pieces .. in a good way! I think to totally understand this album, you have to know Steve’s story of the past 8 or so years. This album is ‘grief’ and ‘heartbreak’ poured out in lyric and music. You can feel it, you can sense it, you can almost touch it all the way through. I know from experience there is no grief on earth like losing your soul mate and for that reason, for me, this album is just spectacular. I absolutely love it and hate it at the same time because it made me ‘feel’. Thank you Steve! 😉 ‘In The Rain’ is a killer!
Great review on the whole Michael. I am glad you didn’t give too much away on the Track by Track Review.
Thanks, Wendy! It’s an emotionally honest album, like an autobiography set to music. Thankfully, Steve pulled it off exceptionally well.
Man did you sum everything up for me! I feel exactly as you do…..I feel privileged to have lived in this day and age of Steve Perry……the world would be very lucky to have another like him once we’re are all gone, but at least his music will live on once we do leave this earth.
How do I comment when I loved this voice most of my life. I can not tell you what this album does to my heart. I loved you then and now and until I can no longer listen. Thank You so much. Don’t stop , your voice your heart needs to be shared. Again Thank You