Journey faced a lot of headwinds while trying to complete 2022's Freedom – not least of which were separations from one another in the quarantine era.

They were also trying to rebuild the lineup after splitting with bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith. Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon were about to become embroiled in a very public feud over control of band finances that led to since-dropped lawsuits.

Nevertheless, "we had some pretty cool songs on it," Cain told WOUB's Nicholas Kobe. "I think it was a very cohesive album for a cut-and-paste record made during COVID. Could have been different if we had all been in a studio together, but for what it was, it was a pretty cool record."

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The initial single, "The Way We Used to Be," was released through BMG Rights Management and Frontiers Records in June 2021. Freedom didn't arrive until July 2022, with 15 songs co-produced by Cain, Schon and Narada Michael Walden. Even leaving aside a Cain-written Japanese-edition bonus track called "Hard to Let It Go," that's a whopping 73 minutes worth of music.

"I have to say it was too long," Cain admitted. "I don't think we needed all those songs, but it had moments."

Cain, Schon and Walden were joined by singer Arnel Pineda and bassist Randy Jackson for these remote sessions. Walden played drums and was a songwriting partner with Cain and Schon. Touring member Jason Derlatka added background vocals and a returning Deen Castronovo provided lead vocals on "After Glow." Jackson also co-wrote three songs, after appearing on 1983's Frontiers and 1986's Raised on Radio.

"I had fun creating with Neal and Randy and all that stuff," Cain said, "but we're in a lawsuit with Smith and Ross and there's turmoil in the background, so that was kind of a weird time. But an album is a snapshot of where you are in time and that's kind of where we were during the time."

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'Freedom' Can't Match Recent Chart Successes

After all that effort, Freedom just barely cracked the Top 90 in the U.S. Journey was coming off two consecutive Top 20 finishes with 2011's Eclipse and 2008's platinum-selling Revelation.

"I was disappointed with the way the record company handled it and promoted it. I don't think they got it to where it was supposed to be," Cain said, before summing up: "It is what it is. Again, not a bad record."

Freedom isn't the only Journey project that Cain looks back on with a twinge of regret. He's interested in polishing up the sound on Arrival, the album that struggled to No. 56 in 2000 as Steve Augeri took over for classic-era frontman Steve Perry.

"Then the big question was, could we, Neal and I create Journey without him?" Cain admitted. "And it turned out we did alright. We did pretty darn good. I've got to say, when Arrival came out, I was quite happy with it. It sounded like Journey to me, yet it didn't get the support it needed. I'd like to remix that record someday, just go back and make it right. It just doesn’t sound like it should. Maybe they’ll give me a budget for that."

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Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso

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