Fans may have thought Steve Perry had stopped believin’, but after a two-decade recording hiatus, the reclusive ex-Journey singer has finally released “No Erasin’,” the lead single off his 10-song comeback album and third proper solo effort, Traces, due out Oct. 5. The man who recently ranked at No. 76 on Rolling Stone’s list of Greatest Singers of All Time sounds in fine form — perhaps a bit raspier, a bit world-wearier, but still evoking Journey’s anthemic Escape era — on the strident, arena-ready power ballad.
Perry’s last two releases were his 1994 solo album For the Love of Strange Medicine, followed in 1996 by Journey’s Trial by Fire and the solo song “I Stand Alone” for the Quest for Camelot soundtrack in 1998. Since then, he has kept a low profile. In 2014, he performed onstage for the first time in 20 years, singing three songs with his friend Mark Everett’s indie rock band Eels at a club show in St. Paul, Minnesota; however, when he attended last year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, at which Journey was inducted, he opted not to perform with his former bandmates, whom he had not seen in over a decade.
On his website, Perry explains his reasons for finally returning to the scene. “Years ago, I disappeared. There were many reasons, but mainly… my love for music had suddenly left me. I knew that simply stopping, was what I had to do. If music was ever to return to my heart, then and only then I would figure out what to do,” he begins. “If not… so be it, for I had already lived the dream of dreams.”
Perry explains that he eventually felt his creative spark rekindled, and “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. … May of 2015, I began recording. These songs are special to me. I respectfully ask that you please listen to them.”
Perry is referring to his girlfriend, psychologist Kellie Nash. In a touching blog post on the Fan Asylum website in 2013, Perry revealed that he fell for Nash in May 2011 after seeing her in Five, a Lifetime TV special about breast cancer survivors, and asking the director, his friend Patty Jenkins, to introduce them. When Jenkins informed him that Nash’s cancer had returned and was now in Stage 4, Perry knew meeting Nash and possibly getting attached was an emotional risk, but he still wanted to be fixed up. Once the two met in person, it was love at first sight, and they “both knew that we were meant to be together.”
Perry was by Nash’s side as she underwent alternative treatment, and the couple “had the most magical summer of our lives together”; they dated for a year and a half before Nash ultimately lost her cancer battle. “She was so strong, so courageous and we really loved each other so very much,” Perry wrote in his blog. “Though Kellie and I were only together for one-and-a-half years, it was a lifetime of love packed into every moment.”
Speaking to ABC Radio in 2017, Perry described Traces as “an emotional expression” and confessed, “It’s been a real cathartic experience going back to that emotional place that I thought I would never go back to. And we really have been doing our very best to capture what I think are some timeless songs.”
Traces is available for pre-order here.
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