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Album Review :Scott Stapp – The Space Between the Shadows

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Scott Stapp, now there is a name that conjures memories, happiness and sheer talent but since his last release “Proof of Life” there have been many journeys for the former Creed front man. It may only have been six years but the man hit depths that the ones who loved him wondered if he would ever get out of. I did worry that Scott was one headline away from an obituary and it was painful to see this Grammy award winning musician crash and burn in such a public way.

Far too often fame tears bands and people apart, I do not for one minute wish to comment on how this would affect a person. I know there will be thousands of people out there screaming if I had those chances I would never have wasted them but as the old saying goes never judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRobYx6VzUs&w=560&h=315]

After hearing first release “Purpose for Pain” I knew the man was back but I had no idea that this album would affect me so much. This album is powerful, it is beautiful and I can guarantee that every person reading this will be able to relate to the lyrical content throughout…we have all fought our demons to one extent or another but Scott has laid his soul bare and I am sure he is a very different man from the one prior to writing and recording The Space Between the Shadows.

The album title tells a story of its own and although this is as dark as hell it is also full of light, hope and redemption. Scott Stapp is back and I lay odds he is better, stronger and much wiser than before.

There could be a bit of foreboding as the opening song intro finishes with the words “end of the world” but in “World I Used to Know” you feel Scott is reaching outward now. The inner demons have subsided to the point he sees other injustice in the world…it may also have something to do with the idiot puppets we have running the world. There is no messing around with this song, it is as heavy as hell straight off the blocks and packs one hell of a punch.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iu5GQeTwT7A&w=560&h=315]

On the song “Name” you begin to realise that the mans problems are not recent. As happens with the abandoned the pain stays inside for a very long time and sometimes never released but the main thing to take from this is that we own that pain and it is our duty to not pass that pain on. Musically it is perfect Creed, it plays that balance between heavy and light. I do wonder if Scott saw a little loop between the first two songs. The way that the world is so messed up is due to the changes each generation make. I may not have been abandoned but I was brought up in a very strict household, sometimes I wish I was abandoned so I swore to never be like that to my kids. My children never felt my hand, they rarely heard my voice raised as so many people of my generation did but it is only now I wonder how bad was it back then? It shaped me, it taught me every lesson I learned and it sure as hell taught me respect which I fear our children may now not realise the power of…I really do not know what the solution is with this one.

Single “Purpose for Pain” is next and it just gets better with each listen. The heavy vibe is back, the dark chants before that focus on the mans voice which seems more powerful than it ever was. Is it the subject? Is it his shutting every door but the right one? I feel this song came from the moment he hit rock bottom and right before the father issues raised their head to the fore. This is a song that only someone at rock bottom can write and it is only a survivor can write as at that point there are only two ways to go and it is only at that point you can see how far away the light is.

“Heaven is Me” is another beautiful song, that voice, the simple acoustic guitar. It is a song like this that shows why he won a grammy. When you break this song down it can rip you apart and I am not too proud to say I cried at the insight into Scott’s horror show and the fact that he could find something good inside himself. One lesson I have learned is that you have to love and be happy with yourself before you can ever be happy with anyone else and I think that Scott has finally discovered this. This song really moved me.

To follow this up we have “Survivor” and you have the shining moment on the album, it is the moment you know Scott is going to be OK. It follows on from the sound on “Proof of Life”, that Shinedown vibe with a touch of Skillet. A very uplifting song.

“Wake up Call” could be the defining moment on this album. It may not be my favourite but I can see how important this could be to Scott’s revival. It is an instant radio hit and MUST be released as a single. It is slow, it could even have been on one of the 90s mood albums. It has the success of “Arms Wide Open” written all over it. For me it should have been played up far more, the choir should have been used more, the strings should have been more prominent and it should have been a piano led song but that is just my thoughts…millions will love this.

Back to the heaviness again with “ Face of the Sun” and it is a cracker, that distorted guitar, the excellent drumming and the perfect production…this needs to be played loud.

With “Red Clouds” we open with distorted guitar and bass, a mid tempo number that slips into one of those slow, slithering tracks that Scott is so well known for and as the song rises you wonder if those red clouds are anger. It also has a feel of a theme song and it would fit on a James Bond movie with ease.

You get the feeling “ Gone Too Soon” could have been an autobiographic song had things gone differently. The song has a real U2/ Big Country feel, it has definite celtic undercurrents and again this is poignant, angelic and thought provoking.

The album closer “Ready to Love” says it all. When you come out of that tunnel you are ready to finally give. It sounds as if it this is not just in relationship terms, it feels much bigger, almost god like. It is Scott leaving us saying everything is going to be OK. It is obviously directed specifically but it is also a shout out to the world, it is joyous, it is empowered and it is stunning.

Scott Stapp is back and this is the marker he needed. He has turned a corner and proved his worth, his talent and “The Space Between the Shadows” is an absolute masterpiece. Welcome back good sir…now if you could just get your ass over to the UK I would be eternally grateful…you have been on my bucket list to see live for a very long time.

Review Ritchie Birnie

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