When Steve Perry returns to the studio for the first time since his departure from Journey more than 20 years ago, it’s with a bittersweet, soft and really quite beautiful edge. Forget all about arena rockers of the Journey-days and instead focus on the softest parts of the wonderful 1984 solo-debut Street Talk, but even softer. Some may even argue too soft. But I won’t. I certainly won’t.

Having not made an album in so many years, I had kind of expected Perrys voice to have gotten weaker, and a new album to be quite a typical modern Frontiers-project-style-AOR-album. It doesn’t. It feels genuine. It feels personal. It feels beautiful. Instead of providing us nostalgic rock with a modern sound, “Traces” sets its mood in a soft bar room feeling of the wee small hours. But not the smokey alcohol-drenched kind, but a fresh, clear-as-water kind. The basis are wonderful songs performed by professional musicians who always keep their low profile instead of letting their talents take over the songs. They let Perrys voice do the talking, and the result is soft and a magnificent vibe. Mature. Bittersweet and tasteful.

I have now only heard “Traces” a couple of times, but I have a hunch it will stay with me for a long time. I’m not absolutely convinced that the songs are strong enough to take the album above 8/10, but the more I listen to it, the more I want to take it higher. I trust that instinct and give it the high points I feel is right. As a whole, “Traces” is a beautiful album and definitely among the very best albums this year. I can’t wait to get this album  into my hands and to listen to it more times.

Band: Steve Perry
Title: Traces
Label: Fantasy Records
Date of release: 5/10-18
Time: 40,13
Rate: 9/10
Stand out tracks: No Erasin’