Scott Stapp, the man everyone seems to love to hate. From Creed to his solo work, he gets no respect which is an utter shame as I think people miss the beauty in his songs and his voice. The man has been at the top of the world when Creed was at its heights and he has been at rock bottom with his public battles with bi-polar disorder and addiction. This album is reminder of what he has been through and badge of how far he has come.
His 2013 album, ‘Proof of Life’, is one of my favorite albums and my favorite of his so when I heard about his third solo album, I was really excited. And did the album live up to expectations, well, lets check it out and see.
The vinyl is a single LP which has all the 12 songs you can get in Apple Music or iTunes. The last 2 being listed as bonus tracks. Being that many songs on one piece of vinyl, the sound is still fantastic, crisp and clear.
The album jacket is a gatefold and inside the gatefold you get all the lyrics to each song, his thank you list and all the credits on the album. It is nice to be actually able to read the lyrics because sometimes they get jammed on one side of the album sleeve and they are too hard to read.
The album was produced by Marti Frederiksen (songwriter with Aerosmith, Struts, Carrie Underwood) and Scott Stevens (songwriter with Halestorm and singer with the Exies). They brought their skills here with the songwriting and the slick production and put together a well-written cohesive sounding album with Scott.
Now let’s talk about the music since that is all you care about anyway.
The album opens with the zombie apocalypse and the end of times with “World I Used to Know”. The song is a screaming rocker talking about the horrible shape our world is in and his cries to what happened to the world that he used to know. The vocals are very melodic and it is a great heavy track to open with to get the blood moving and ready for the journey.
The journey turns very personal with the song “Name” as Scott deals with the issue of abandonment from a father who only left him his name. He promises his son that he will never know that pain. It is powerful and you can feel how this has been a pain he has had to deal with for his whole life and now it is time to let go and be better than who his father was. The song is a slower tempo at times and builds to a bombastic chorus and his vocals are stellar and the with his vocals layered in with the chorus it adds to the pain he felt.
Speaking of pain, “Purpose for Pain”, is another rocker that explores the thought that there is a purpose for the pain we feel and understanding that purpose is key to dealing with it. At least that is what I got out of it. It is the heaviest song, it rocks out and reminds me a lot of the best of Creed and that post-grunge era. I love the line, “I fought the devil and he won” because I don’t think it is true. I think at his worst times, the devil won a battle against Scott, but Scott is still going strong and seems to be winning the war.
With “Heaven in Me”, we see that Scott’s Christian beliefs are still there if not slightly bruised. No matter how bad things got, God was still there with him. It is a beautiful power ballad. Scott’s lyrics paint such a beautiful picture of what he has gone through and I always find them so interesting.
“Survivor” is another upbeat rocker and seems to be trend of rocker, ballad, rocker so forth. The song is a little cheesy lyrically as it throws out so many cliched words for survivor it borders on over the top, but stays just on the edge of falling off that cliff and I still enjoyed it. It is very anthemic in style and I could see it being played live.
The last song on Side A is “Wake Up Call”. Another ballad and this one includes a child’s chorus to help push the emotion. As you can guess from the title, it is about that moment when he finally had that call and so far he has answered it and let’s hope he stays on the line for quite a while. It is the most touching and moving of all the ballads (and there is a lot) and could quite possibly be the most radio-friendly of the bunch.
Side B is off to a bang up start with the heavy “Face of the Sun”. A slap in the face and punch to the gut rocker with a catchy chorus that will get you out of your chair and singing along. It is a melodic rock & roll song and brings the guitars which there needs to be more focus on those, but I will take what I can get.
Now it is time for my favorite song on the album and might be one of my Top Songs of the year. “Red Clouds” is a very dark song, very Creed like and really what I love from Stapp and is what keeps me coming back for more. It has a lot of religious themes in it, but I can’t find what “Red Clouds” means for sure. I do know that when I heard the song and the line “Rain Down, Rain Down, Red Clouds wash over me” I was moved and felt it in my heart. When I saw the lyrics were actually, “Reign Down, Reign Down, Red Clouds wash over me”, I was blown away as that is a completely different meaning and more impactful. His faith is in full force with this one. I can feel him dropping to his knees, arms raised high and screaming this to the heavens.
Next up is another ballad called “Goon Too Soon”. It is a tribute to Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington as well as to all those we have lost too soon. It is beautiful tribute. Now I said “Wake Up Call” might be the most radio-friendly ballad on the album, but I think I was wrong. This one probably is. It is just perfect.
Next up is “Ready to Love” which is another ballad type song. More of a power ballad with a nice piano opening and Scott’s preaching the lyrics that he is ready to love as he is now in a good place. Lyrically it is magnificent how he is celebrating the fact that he is still here after so many lost chances and there are still people standing beside him. He is ready to love says it all.
Now on to the bonus tracks. The first one up is “Mary’s Crying”. It is reminds me of later Creed maybe from “Weathered” or “Full Circle”. It isn’t a ballad and not a rocker, somewhere in between. Very catchy, very melodic and more religious tones than some of the other songs, but not a throwaway as some bonus songs can be. It doesn’t really fit with the other tracks, but still great and glad it was on the vinyl.
The last track, “Last Hallelujah”, is a little darker and another bombastic chorus coming off a little slower tempo. Another very religious song and seems to be about what he saw when he was at the bottom and looking up into his maker’s face. It is another powerful song and a great way to end the album even if it is a bonus track.
For the track score, there isn’t anything I would delete so it gets a perfect score of 12 tracks out of 12 or 100%. Now will that warrant a perfect 5 Stars? No, not necessarily. I felt there were too many ballads on the album although I did enjoy them all. I would have liked a few more rockers, but I will take what I can get.
Scott Stapp has returned with another stellar album. Will it hold up like ‘Proof of Life’, only time will tell. I do know I am really enjoying it and some songs are the strongest he has done (“Red Clouds). With too many ballads, I will ding him for that a little. I will give the album a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars which is pretty dang great. I think Scott has given us a very personal album that explores the demons he faced and now is stronger for it. He has come out the others side where a lot of people can’t. He stands before us a changed man and his music is a testament to that strength and I hope will help people see that there is a light at the end of the ever so dark tunnel. Check it out if you get a chance, it is worth it.