The Middle Ground

scott-stapp

Scott Stapp is like a politician.  No, stay with me on this… while his songs or his interviews rarely delve into politics, he cuts the polarizing figure that many politicians can relate to.  People either love him or hate him.  This has been true throughout his tenure as the lead singer of Creed, and during his solo career.  Stapp has attempted to share his side of the story many times over the years, his latest being his memoir Sinner’s Creed, which is an engaging read if you’re a fan of the band.  In this review, I’m attempting to straddle the middle ground and provide an unbiased look at his latest release.

Stapp’s new single “Slow Suicide,” from his forthcoming solo album Proof of Life, adds to the conversation.  Right away the song catches the listener’s attention with an odd glissando introduction that lingers even as the guitar part smashes in.  This song hits the listener much harder than Stapp’s previous solo efforts, which often veered toward the less hard-rocking side of his personality (such as “Pray for Sunrise,” the song he released to accompany his memoir), and when he did try to echo the Creed sound, it sometimes sounded forced and disingenuous without Mark Tremonti’s influence (such as “Reach Out,” from his first solo record).

Though once the instrumental part starts, it remains much the same for the entire song.  There aren’t really any key changes or shifts in its tempo or texture to keep the song interesting.  There are a few things thrown in (such as the weird vocal effect at 2:34 and the “almost a guitar solo” that happens soon after), but I wish there was a little more variety here.

Lyrically, while the themes are familiar, the lyrics are accessible and well-crafted, as is Stapp’s forte.  He seems to convey a live-in-the-now attitude (“I can’t let my tomorrows decide what I am in this life”) and no longer appears burdened by what others think of him.  Stapp has spent so much time telling us the past is past (the theme is all over his 2005 album The Great Divide and Creed’s 2009 album Full Circle) that it makes the listener wonder if he ever really moved on from his past troubles both during and in the immediate aftermath of Creed’s first run.

In sum, I feel the same way about this track that I did when I first heard Alter Bridge’s latest track.  It’s good, but I feel like a singer with Stapp’s skill is capable of bringing more to the table.  I did eventually come to view Alter Bridge’s track in a new light, and maybe I’ll feel differently once I’ve had time to digest “Slow Suicide.”  Another reason Alter Bridge’s track grew on me is that it fit very well into a great album, as my initial impressions of Fortress indicate.  So I’ll be interested to see how this song fits into the bigger picture of the album.

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