July 12, 2022 Journey – Freedom (Album Review)
In the early 1970s a band by the name of Golden Gate Rhythm Section burst forth onto the music scene like a fountain geyser. Later renamed and forever known as Journey, they eventually became a powerhouse in the world of Rock-n-Roll.
Journey marched across terrain far and wide in a single-minded vision quest of smiting hearts the world over with Steve Perry’s signature vocals and soulful joie de vivre music style. Leaving behind a trail of gold foiled rose petal hits where ever they went, Journey rightfully entrance into the illustrious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2017 and continue to march on in 2022. In fact, on July 8th they returned with their new studio album Freedom through BMG in the USA and Frontier Records in Europe/Japan.
Their first studio album in eleven long years, the last being Eclipse, it is also the third studio album to feature Arnel Pineda on leading voice. Behind Pineda is of course the core of Journey, Neal Schon (guitars, backing vocals, keyboards) and Jonathan Cain (keyboards, backing vocals). In addition, there is contribution from Jason Derlatka (backing vocals), Randy Jackson (bass, backing vocals), Narada Michael Walden (drums), as well as Deen Castronovo offering lead vocals on “After Glow.”
A nearly 71-minute-long album, Freedom consists of fifteen scintillating tracks which features lyrics and blood pumping instrumentals that send an uplifting vibe of hope, evoke a sense of inner calm, and a firm conviction that love conquers all.
Coming together during the pandemic, Freedom gradually took shape and you can readily distinguish the Journey flavor within each song that is even more robust and polished than ever. A synchronicity of the past and present, fans were introduced to the new music with the lead single “You Got the Best of Me” which features a funky synthesizer intro that has a strong YES vibe. A lusty tune with a kickass drumbeat that triggers the muscular system to move of its own accord, it is a bold yet daring piece that is reminiscent of early Journey.
The next single came along back mid-May with “Let it Rain” complete with a Psychedelic Rock intro. Here the melody is strong, pulsing like the neon lights on a marquee while being set to a thumping beat. You can practically visualize the high energy violet rain pelting the earth and rainbow hues in the puddles thanks to the screaming guitars.
Two strong first tastes of new Journey tunes, it was fitting that the next single, “United We Stand” was released on the 4th of July. That in mind, “United We Stand” is quintessentially a song about a love relationship gone awry when it is projected beyond on a grander scale it mirrors the divisive state of humanity at large. The takeaway is that tough times are here, but in order to get past them we all have to be united as one to cast out the darkness. Complete with an intro that is soft and steady, it is accented by the heart-rending vocals that grab ahold your heart while it continues to form a swaying human chain link grabbing another hand each step of the way.
Which leads us to the rest of Freedom which is fully of compelling moments. Amidst these you have “The Way We Used to Be” which is more on point these days as we struggle daily to pick up the shards of our lives left behind from the typhoon winds of the pandemic. Possessing a strong anthemic feel, it is ear penetratingly loud with intertwining hair-raising riffs as the vocals create a thread of harmonic space. This is while the album closer strongly with “Beautiful as You are.” Starting off subdued and passionate, it is as if the song is a bouquet of red roses proffered to a treasured lover. Bring it all together you have vocals that resonate with heavy emotion as it flies high above the instrumentals with a melody that is difficult to resist.
Overall, Freedom does much to buoy flagging spirits that have been assaulted by a series of unprecedented events that has peopled divided, scared, and summarily depressed. Looking even further into things, not only has Journey’s music changed, but so has their classic Journey Scarab artwork. Refreshed, it is more defined with a pair of outstretched vibrantly colored wings surrounded by blue light. For those unaware, the scarab is the symbol of renewal and you can say Freedom is that rebirth for the band. Showcasing Journey’s versatility, Cryptic Rock gives Freedom 4.5 out of 5 stars.