Scott Stapp's solo career got interrupted by the 2009 Creed reunion, so it took him a full eight years to get around to following up 2005's The Great Divide. Perhaps that's why he feels the need to call this sophomore set Proof of Life: he's reiterating that he's still here, still raising a ruckus. Like The Great Divide, Stapp is intent on keeping most of Proof of Life operating on a gut level. It comes crashing in on a cascade of heavy guitars as Stapp testifies "I'm not evil/No matter what you think/I'm just human/There's a part of you just like me," the first line on an album that could be read as a loose song cycle about losing faith then finding, well, "Proof of Life," then discovering there is a "New Day Coming" assisted by the help of god ("Jesus Was a Rockstar," before learning he was just "Dying to Live"). Along the way, Stapp does occasionally buff the finish so the album doesn't seem entirely like a throwback to the glory days of new-millennial post-grunge -- the album's centerpiece power ballad, "Only One," has hints of electronic rhythms and a clean, metallic glint reminiscent of prime 3 Doors Down; "Hit Me More" churns on syncopated rhythms that may (or may not) have a passing acquaintance with EDM -- but he's at home when he's allowed to bellow alongside massive walls of guitars. He does so throughout Proof of Life, so it offers surface comforts even if, at its core, this is something of a travelogue of a dark night of the soul.
Proof of Life Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine