Scott Stapp - Higher Power

Scott Stapp – Higher Power (Album Review)

Scott Stapp 2024

Currently out on tour, Creed Co-founder Scott Stapp is returning on March 15th, 2024 with his fourth solo album, Higher Power. Marking his second release from Napalm Records, following 2019’s The Space Between the Shadows, for Stapp, it is a quick, positive turnaround.

Some of the overt topics on the album include Stapp’s religious background alongside a more universal sense of human connection, and a concern for mental health alongside the need for a support system in life. At this point in Stapp’s solo career, he seems to be opening up about what he means by his personal faith and how he feels it can be universal and relatable; as we see in the title-track “Higher Power.” As for mental health, Stapp was diagnosed as bipolar in 2017 and has been open about the relief that a diagnosis brought him, helping reframe some of his struggles and highlighting the importance of communication.

Looking deeper into matters, the title-track was, apparently, written during the pandemic when Stapp found reason to reflect on his very real near-death experiences, and we see his well-known 40 foot fall off a balcony recounted in the song. In public statements about the song, Stapp’s been clear that his faith referred to in the song is something that is akin to other peoples’ ability to find ‘greater’ purpose or motivation in many aspects of life. What is most surprising about “Higher Power” is that it is a song about what comes after disaster, and not only does it focus on survival, it focuses on becoming something more than one was before. Sonically, the song is pristine Melodic Metal from the start, but actually becomes even heavier in the second half, giving an interesting twist to the lyrics and the vocals as they seem to aspire even higher.

The second single from the album, “Deadman’s Trigger,” as well as its video, is shot through with Western imagery that is a nostalgic through-line in Rock and Metal tradition. Overall, it is a song that does not sugar-coat the kind of stalemate and seemingly endless conflict it envisions. While it may be purely reflecting an inner state of struggle with oneself, the bigger world implications leave room for thought. When you look at it, hidden under the impressively heavy guitar work, “Deadman’s Trigger” is really a dark ballad with an outlaw feel.

If you get the sense that Stapp could hardly get more personal on this album, do not miss out on the album’s actual ballad “If These Walls Could Talk” where he performs in duet with Hard Rock frontwoman Dorothy Martin of Dorothy and brings the accomplishments and failures he has encountered in life together under one roof. Here both vocalists deliver astonishing performances and seem to challenge each other to go further than expected. This confrontation with one’s lowest states, as well as a striving for wholeness and acceptance, can be summed up with the lyrics, “I had to get lost to get found.

Then there is the album closer “Weight of the World” which feels both familiar as an upbeat heroic offer of shelter and aid. It is a little surprising as it seems to acknowledge the necessary “weight” of helping others in that way. Stapp’s vocals on the track display admirable mobility and range, at times confessional, at times powerful. The continuing theme of allowing others to help is given equal weight as being reminded about one’s own inner strength; which is a rarity in a Rock track, not to mention in heavy music.

In the end Higher Power showcases some of Stapp’s finest songwriting yet in terms of careful structuring of sounds and ideas. Additionally, his vocal performances are also remarkably varied, track by track, but consistently engaging and emotive. There is an intentionality to each composition that conveys just how committed Stapp is to his solo work right now, but also to creating big and potentially cathartic aural experiences for audiences. For that reason, Cryptic Rock gives Higher Power 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Scott Stapp - Higher Power
Scott Stapp – Higher Power / Napalm Records (2024)

Like the in-depth, diverse coverage of Cryptic Rock? Help us in support to keep the magazine going strong for years to come with a small donation.

No comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *