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Steve Perry Makes a Warm and Calculated Return to Music

You could say I was a bit of a weird kid. On the one hand, the heavy tones of Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads appealed to my mischievous and rebellious teenage side. But, Journey was also elevated to the rock pantheon in my mind. My friends and family didn't quite understand me or my love of the group from the city by the Bay.

Steve Perry returns with a glorious album that Traces a comeback path for the legendary singer.

Heck, it was really only in 2007 that their song "Don't Stop Believing" saw a dramatic growth in popularity when it was used in the famous final scene of HBO's The Sopranos series finale. Since then it has become the unofficial rock and roll National Anthem for our musical nation.

In that same year Journey was tasked with finding a new singer to fill the hallowed shoes of their legendary frontman - Steve Perry. They found the hungry and talented Arnel Pineda in the Philippines. His ascent to that role is now part of rock and roll history in addition to being one of the most heart-warming human interest stories of all time.

But, fans never stopped believing and hoping that the one true voice of Journey would return someday. Perry's final departure from the group in the late 90's was never really accurately or adequately explained to their satisfaction. It had become one of rock's greatest mysteries and the singer's absence took on mythical qualities. He had become a rock and roll recluse. Or had he?

Steve Perry, however, was no Howard Hughes. Sure, they both went missing in the state of California but Perry now explains in a series of well-coordinated interviews that he essentially returned to his boyhood home of Hanford to live a more normal life outside of the glaring spotlight. He has said that by doing so he probably extended his years by stepping away from the fast-paced rock and roll lifestyle.

Perry has remained consistently on message throughout a media blitz that would make any well-funded politician proud. Starting with the build up to the October 2018 release of Traces - his first solo record in almost a quarter of a century - Perry began to finally retrace his whereabouts for the past twenty five turns of the wheel in the sky.

During the promotional campaign for the new record that started out on smaller radio stations and blogs before building up to major features in Rolling Stone and on CBS News Sunday Morning, Perry basically revealed that he had simply walked away from singing to live a more simple life. He did eventually begin to write music again around 2012 and from his own website he continues:

"Then another beautiful thing happened. I found Love. My precious Kellie gave me a life I never knew I had. I lost her December of 2012. I now deeply understand the meaning of: It's better to have Loved and Lost, Than to have never Loved at All."

Steve had fallen in love with a stage four breast cancer survivor named Kellie Nash and they had a whirlwind romantic affair. Nash asked Perry to return to music should something ever happen to her. The new album and subsequent total reemergence of Perry into the popular culture is nothing more than a fulfillment of a promise he made to his dying girlfriend. This tragic, nearly unbelievable and unthinkably sad story almost rivals the back story to Pineda's arrival in Journey.

Now comes news that Traces is Perry's first Top 10 solo debut, entering the Billboard 200 Albums Chart at #6 with over 73,000 total copies in sales and consumption. Traces has additionally landed at #4 on the Billboard Album Chart and #2 on the Billboard Current Rock Album Chart. The new record also marks Perry's best ever debut in the UK, Germany, Canada (#7 on the Current Album Chart) and Japan (#1 on the International Chart). Traces is Perry's third solo release, following 1984's Street Talk, which topped out at #12, and 1994's For the Love of Strange Medicine, which debuted and peaked at #15.

"All I was hoping for was someone to listen to the emotional expression of these new songs after my years of absence," Perry states. "This has been beyond my wildest dreams, and I thank you all so very much."

Traces has received widespread praise everywhere from The Associated Press, NPR, and The New York Times to Rolling Stone, HuffPost and Yahoo, with USA Today highlighting it as one of "10 Albums You Need To Hear This Fall" and Forbes exclaiming "there is no denying it is 'The Voice.' And for all of music it is damn good to have the Steve Perry back."

Traces is a 10-track (15 if you buy the expanded edition) album that offers more than a glimpse of what made Perry great in Journey and on his previous solo efforts. Perhaps huskier than we remember and a little rougher around the edges "the voice" is clearly still there, friendly and familiar on a record dominated by mostly sorrowful ballads and mid-tempo numbers that are hopelessly devoted to Steve and Kellie's short-lived but highly emotional and engaging love story.

What's even more amazing is what Perry hasn't done. In interview after interview he is revealing and recalling the fact that talking to the press was never really his thing. Even when singing in Journey he was a bit of an enigmatic and elusive character study. But, now approaching his 70th birthday Perry is proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks with his mastery of working the modern day media to his full advantage.

By not singing for nearly two decades "the voice" might have actually preserved his own pipes for this crucial moment in time when the public needs him the most. By working the cords now and potentially taking this show on the road Perry's vocals are sure to get even stronger to ensure that next time there will be even more traces of the power and glory that lifted him and his Journey bandmates into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

A more cynical person might say that Perry had somehow manufactured this compelling narrative to frame his long-awaited and long overdue comeback around. But, how could that even be possible? The truth is that Traces is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking in its authentic telling of Perry's tale of love and loss. You know it's 100 percent real by the way it makes you feel. We just hope Steve's next step in his journey back to the mainstream is a happier one.

Arenal Pineda joined Journey in 2007. (Photo by RJL/

Related Links: For more information on STEVE PERRY and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Steve Perry | Journey

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