Scott Stapp

The Great Divide

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On his first album since disbanding Creed in 2004 -- and his first collection of new material since the band's last album, Weathered, in 2001 -- singer/songwriter Scott Stapp strips his music back to its barest essence. Gone are the indulgent arty flourishes, such as a cameo from the Tallahassee Boys Choir, that weighed down Weathered, and all that's left on The Great Divide are layers and layers of heavy, heavy guitars, which support Stapp's guttural declarations of angst and faith. It makes for the hardest, most immediate music he's made since Creed's debut, My Own Prison, but not necessarily the best. Certainly those looking for another "With Arms Wide Open" will be a little disappointed -- there are power ballads here, but with the notable exception of "Surround Me," not only do they lack the dramatic anthemic quality that made that a huge hit, they're given somber, heavy arrangements that appeal only to the portion of his audience that prefers the Scott Stapp who channels Jim Morrison and favors loud, distorted guitars. Since the prog inflections of Weathered didn't suit Stapp's music well -- his lyrics are so earnest he needs music lacking in affectation -- this back-to-basics approach serves him relatively well, even if it inevitably feels like a bit of retreat, as if he were consciously playing to the core of his base in order to guarantee an audience for his solo work. Nevertheless, this plays well on the surface, providing Creed fans with the basic sound that the band drifted away from at the tail end of its career, even if it does leave the lingering feeling that Stapp is trying to sound like Creed on his solo debut instead of embracing the freedom of being a solo artist.

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