It’s been eight years since Creed’s singer put out the ultimately disappointing ‘Great Divide’ and yet a follow up was always on the cards after the release of Stapp’s memoirs ‘A Sinners Creed’ last year. An earlier attempt at a solo album entitled ‘Somewhere In the Middle Of Lust, produced by Desmond Child back in 2010, was shelved.
Stapp confesses in his book that he was abused as a child and that this made life difficult during his days with the Creed during the nineties where he behaved in a controlling way and found empathy with his band mates in the end became nigh on impossible. The book charts his rediscovery of God and the conscious effort that he has made to be a better person.
Perhaps surprisingly ‘Proof of Life’ isn’t the huge Christian confessional that some wish it to be. Indeed some factions of the Christian record buying public seem perturbed that it doesn’t open up into the overt monastic offering that they’d hoped for. It’s far more subtle lyrically-courtesy of Stapp himself -and depending on your persuasion songs can possess any number of meanings. Let’s be honest this and the fact that Howard Benson produces ‘Proof Of Life’ gives you a clue that this is clearly aimed at the mainstream modern rock market. Stapp insists that this is the most personal record he has created to date and yet that statement rings a little hollow when you consider that all of the songs are co-written with the anyone from Kara DioGuardia (Jesus Was A Rock Star) through to Scott Stevens (Slow Suicide and Crash) and Tyler Connolly (Proof Of Life).
If you want warts and all insight into Stapp and his battles and his epiphany moments, do yourself a favour and read the book. If however you want to hear a brilliant solo modern rock album then ‘Proof of Life’ is simply essential. Kicking off with the crunching ‘Slow Suicide’-a hint at an earlier failed attempt at suicide involving a gun-‘Proof of Life’ delivers on all counts. From the Alex Band-like ‘What Would Love Do’ through to the Mitch Allan co-write ‘Break Out’ it’s about quality songs and Stapp’s instantly recognizable larynx. ‘New Day Coming’ – a hint at Stapp’s changing ways-is as haunting as it is melodic, ‘Crash’-the most Creed-like song on offer is a modern soft rock gem depicting Stapp’s decadent life, whilst ‘Dying To Live’ ramps up the emotion with its references to Stapp’s renewed love of life. It’s a natural pairing that tells a story.
Stapp is often given a hard time over his perceived vocal limitations-Myles Kennedy often being lauded over his greater range with Alter Bridge-yet Stapp offers far greater character in pulling off a career defining performance on far more eclectic material than that of Kennedy’s outfit.
With Stapp likely to embark on a world tour during 2014 it would be nice to think that the material on this album will be given a good airing alongside the obvious Creed hits as it deserves it.