Arguably one of the most intriguing and controversial rock vocalists of the new millennium, the Grammy-winning Scott Stapp releases his first solo offering since 2005 here with Proof of Life. Produced by the renowned Howard Bensen (Creed, Bon Jovi) and mixed by equally prevalent Chris Lord-Alge (Breaking Benjamin, The Used), Proof of Life opens with the hard-hitting single “Slow Suicide,” but shortly after the second track, “Who I Am,” it immediately lets up.
The first two tracks are impressive as Stapp demonstrates his remarkably improved vocal range and songwriting abilities, both on display over top of guitar riffs much too heavy for a Creed record. But from there, Stapp suddenly slows it down for three straight tracks, the casualty being “Only One” — by far the most catchy and repeatable song on the record — is preceded by two pedestrian Hinder-esque ballads.
From there, the album takes a complete nosedive into mediocrity. The next three tracks feature cheesy, overused one-liners and underwhelming melodies and instrumentalism. (One song is even named “Jesus Was a Rock Star.”) The album ends with two songs reminiscent of the classic Creed sound, which came as a relief after the previous onslaught of disarray. Stapp, characterizing this album as “the most honest record I have ever written,” is puzzling, especially when we find out that literally, on every song, Stapp had different people co-write. This, at least, gives the chaotic nature of the album some explanation, but is far from an excuse for an artist so prominent.
Indeed, Proof of Life has a few exceptional songs that we’re sure to keep in our library, but Stapp really needs to hammer down a musical direction and stick with it to go along with his message of hope.