Neal Schon’s new collection of original compositions, Vortex, will be released on June 23 through Mascot Label Group’s Music Theories Recordings. The double album is dedicated to Schon’s wife, Michaele. The track premiered here, “Lady M,” and another called “Triumph of Love” were written for her. (Schon performed the latter tune at their wedding.)
“This is an evolutionary album for me,” Schon says. “I’ve always aspired to be a better player and push musical boundaries. And sure, I’ve sold 80 million records with Journey, and I’m proud of that, but this album is really me—all based on my guitar, which is my ‘voice.’ It’s bold. There’s love, and there’s definitely fire and an element of danger. And the energy level is off the hook.”
Schon also produced and played bass on Vortex, which was tracked at Fantasy Studios, his preferred recording spot since Journey cut Escape there in 1981. Journey drummer Steve Smith and keyboardists Jan Hammer and Igor Len joined Schon in the studio.
Among the 18 tracks is a tribute to jazz legend Miles Davis, an acoustic guitar instrumental dedicated to Schon’s mother, and several songs that allow his pianist foils to stretch out. “There are not many three-minute ditties,” Schon says. “It’s all huge, epic, bombastic…futuristic.” Schon says that seven years of sobriety helped him evolve as a player, becoming more aware and “in the moment.”
“There’s an old blues saying,” notes Schon. “‘If you’re thinkin’, you’re stinkin’.’ When you stop thinking and just play from the heart, you discover your own voice. That’s the real thing, and that’s what Vortex is about.”