Written by Alex Stojanovic
Together We Run
Don't Give Up On Us
Still Believe In Love
You Got The Best Of Me
Live To Love Again
The Way We Used To Be
Come Away With Me
Let It Rain
All Day & All Night
United We Stand
Life Rolls On
Beautiful As You Are
Arnel Pineda - Vocals
Neal Schon - Guitars, backing vocals, keyboards
Jonathan Cain - Keyboards, backing vocals
Deen Castronovo - Drums, backing vocals
Jason Derlatka - Keyboards & backing vocals
Todd Jensen - Bass & backing vocals
When you talk about bands that made an enormous impact on music, one of those bands is Journey. To this day, "Don't Stop Believin'" is still the #1 karaoke song of all time, and other songs like "Separate Ways", "Who's Crying Now", "Stone In Love", "Send Her My Love" and "Faithfully" are still being played on the radio to this day. It just goes to show the magic that the lineup of Steve Perry, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Steve Smith and Ross Valory had as a unit, with all due respect to Aynsley Dunbar, Greg Rollie and all the present members. At this point, it's obvious that Journey are never going to be able to recapture the magic they had on Escape and Frontiers, and some of the earlier records. Even with Arnel Pineda being able to hold his own, and aside from Neal Schon's impeccable guitar work and Jonathan Cain's keyboard wizardry, let's be honest here; the main ingredient for Journey's success in the old days was Steve Perry. The man's voice is iconic and untouchable.
Eleven years since the Eclipse album, Journey returned this year with their fifteenth studio offering Freedom. The first thing worth noting about the album is that the musicianship remains at a top notch level. Journey are no slouches when it comes to picking some of the best in the business. While definitely containing standout moments, it just doesn't contain the same appeal as Escape, Frontiers and some of their earlier albums. Some of the album's standout tracks include "Don't Give Up On Us", with its straightforward, hook-laden vibe and memorable chorus, and slight homage to "Separate Ways" with the keyboard intro, "Holdin On" with its prog sensibilities, particularly the verse riff, and "After Glow" with the hypnotic layered vocal harmonies. There's plenty of vocal harmonies throughout the entire album, but this track in particular stands out in that department, especially given that Deen Castronovo provides lead vocals on the track. The man's not only a phenomenal drummer, but an astounding singer too, although he doesn't play drums on the album.
While the band isn't trying to recapture past glories, they're sticking to what they know, which is commendable of course. However, with 15 songs, a total running time of 73 minutes, and a bit of a reliance on ballad-esque moments and tracks, it makes the listening experience start to dwindle around the mid-point. Some tracks could also have been trimmed down a bit in length. The second flaw is that the production as a whole is a bit on the clumsy side. To sum it all up, Freedom shows that Journey are still among the top in the musicianship department, but as a whole, if the album had about 10-11 songs, and a bit more sharper production, it would've been a smash.