As Journey gears up for a Canadian tour next month, guitarist Neal Schon releases his latest solo album, Vortex, today (June 23).
The two-disc set features former Journey drummer Steve Smith as well as keyboardist Jann Hammer, Schon's early 80s collaborator who also played on his 2011 album Eclipse.
Schon tells us that the solo albums allow him to play a bit more free-form than the more traditional song structures Journey works within:
"It's definitely a labor of love for me...Where I'm at right now is that I need that other expression for myself, and also it's different because the guitar is the voice. Everything is not written around vocals. So I very much enjoy doing both, but I love doing these records I do on the side, the solo records. I'm so blessed to have such great musicians playing with me. Jan Hammer is all over this record, and Smith is just ballistic on this record."
Schon is not planning any solo dates for Vortex yet. Journey next performs July 4 at America's Freedom Festival in Provo, Utah, then starts a 17-date Canadian run on July 6 in Winnipeg.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.