Steve Perry, the reclusive former Journey frontman who hasn’t put out a new album in nearly a quarter century, will return this fall with a new LP, Traces. The record, which Perry coproduced with Thom Flowers, contains nine original songs and a cover of the Beatles’ “I Need You.” It’s due out October 5th.
The first single, “No Erasin’,” tells the story of a school reunion with an ex-flame but its words also fit his story of walking away. “I know it’s been a long time comin’ since I saw your face,” he sings in a soulful tone over an urgent backdrop built from drums, piano and acoustic guitars. It builds as the song goes on, adding synths and heavier guitars. “My soul’s burning, just like it was before,” he howls in the chorus.
“Putting 30 years into 10 songs has certainly been an emotional experience for me,” the singer said in a statement. “I started writing and recording these songs with the creative freedom that I was the only one who would ever hear them. Along the way, I rediscovered my love for music. Each track represents traces of my past, but is also a hopeful look into the future. I invite you to listen with an open heart.”
He went into greater detail in statements on his website, claiming he had thought he was done with music. “I just wasn’t feeling it anymore,” he said. By the late Nineties, he could “barely even listen to music.” Subsequently, he stopped singing and began “living life on its own terms.” He met a woman named Dr. Kellie Nash who was battling breast cancer in 2011 and fell in love with her. She died the next year. “When Kellie was very ill, she made me promise not to keep isolating myself anymore,” Perry said. So he revisited some songs he’d written before they met and later recorded them for Traces.
“This was not about seeking closure or moving on, but about taking it all with me, about feeling it all, and expressing it all in hopes that it might move and help other people too,” Perry wrote. “She told me one night, ‘If something happens to me, promise me that you won’t go back into isolation because I feel that it would make this all for naught.’ In the years after her passing, that conversation never left me, and my love for music slowly returned.”
Perry’s songwriting collaborators on the album are his “Oh Sherrie” co-writer Randy Goodrum, Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 and former Semisonic member and songwriter Dan Wilson, among others. Its musicians include Booker T. Jones and onetime Zappa drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, among others.
He said he’d like to perform live again but revealed no details about when he would do so.
Perry made his first step toward public reemergence in 2014 when he joined the band Eels onstage in St. Paul, Minnesota for performances of Journey’s “Open Arms” and “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'” and a few other songs. It was his first time in front of an audience in decades. He reunited with his Journey bandmates last year when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, though he chose only to give a speech in lieu of performing with the group. But it was around that time he felt comfortable talking about his work on Traces and the loss of Nash.
Traces Track List
1. “No Erasin'”
2. “We’re Still Here”
3. “Most of All”
4. “No More Cryin'”
5. “In the Rain”
6. “Sun Shines Gray”
7. “You Belong to Me”
8. “Easy to Love”
9. “I Need You”
10. “We Fly”