Freedom (2022)

1. Together We Run 2. Don't Give Up On Us 3. Still Believe in Love 4. You Got the Best of Me 5. Live to Love Again 6. The Way We Used To Be 7. Come Away With Me 8. After Glow 9. Let it Rain 10.Holdin' On 11.All Day and All Night 12.Don't Go 13.United We Stand 14.Life Rolls On 15.Beautiful As You Are


Janis Joplin once sang that "'Freedom' is just another word for ‘nothing left to lose'". How sad and ironic that this sentiment perfectly echoes the quality of this effort. You listen to this thing and you have to seriously ask yourself: "“why”"why?

I guess it should be pointed out that Journey probably deserves some sort of recognition as the band that squabbled the most among the members. Close examination reveals that they never had the same lineup for more than two albums in a row. Ever. Before this one, long time members Ross Valory and Steve Smith were fired. I’m not sure why. Something about trying to gain the majority of the ownership of the band. Well, there’s no love between Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain either. The amount of aggressive swipes that these two have taken towards each other over the years is nauseating. You almost get the feeling that they both want to fire the other guy, but legally they can’t, so they’re stuck with each other. Even the new guy, Arnel Pineda has voiced frustrations.

So why not just pack it up and quit? Or, if money is so badly needed, why can’t they just play live shows, tolerate each other for a couple of hours, and just play the hits that their fans adore? Why is it necessary to subjugate the buying public to new material that is this awful?

Listening to this record, it’s very obvious that the guys simply don’t care. If one listens closely enough, they can hear that there is some potential in some of these songs, but the guys are obviously being dragged kicking and screaming into the record studio and being forced to perform. Speaking of kicking and screaming, this is what this album so badly needs. It needs punch. It needs excitement. It needs balls. It has none of these. Back in the heyday, even when Journey was belting out power ballads, they did it with such a level of energy and enthusiasm, that it was no secret that they were the favorite among so many and their records were quadra-mega platinum. This isn’t the case here. It’s so sad to hear them just give up.

The only positive thing you can say about this record is that it sounds nothing like their last disastrous studio recording Eclipse. That one did have energy, power, and passion, it was just that the songs sucked and had nothing endearing about them. It was just cheesy generic art rock that went nowhere. How ironic that this record goes 180 degrees in the opposite direction: some songs that have potential, but no level of love or caring. What makes this thing even more unbearable (if that’s possible) is that this thing has 15 songs: 75 minutes of atrocious music. If one has the stamina to make it through, say, 5 of these songs, one has to groan in frustration to learn that they are only 1/3 through this travesty.

I’m sure that if Roy Thomas Baker or Mike Stone got ahold of these songs, they might have been able to salvage this thing and make it listenable. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

The “Journey” over the last 50 years was an overall pleasurable one, but it’s now time to end the ride permanently.

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