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Album Review : Scott Stapp – Higher Power

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Review by Ritchie Birnie for MPM

Grammy winner Scott Stapp is back with his fourth album and it is an emotionally driven work of art.

The album opens with the title track and it is a monster. The album opens and closes with positive notes where as the remainder is retrospective and will drain your emotional intelligence just like Scott has poured his heart and soul across this recording.

We have furious guitars, brutal drums and Scott laying down the blueprint for his vocals…sheer perfection. This is an uplifting number the likes that Creed excelled at. An incredible opening.

The furious pace continues on “Deadman’s Trigger”. The nu metal guitar sound is only quieted by Stapp’s powerful vocals. The song is as catchy as hell and is an instant arena filler. Two songs in and any worry that I had that previous album The Space Between the Shadows was impossible to follow are swept aside.

“When Love is Not Enough” starts very ethereally, slow and focused. It shows the quality of production and the lyrics are Stamped with Scott’s insight, pain and understanding. This is a rock song of the highest caliber.

What I Deserve” is a game changer, I loved this album from start to finish but this one is just on a pinnacle. A slow burner, a shout for mercy, the scream of a desperate person at the very bottom of the barrel. This song is the choice that no one wants to make. It is the desperation to find answers.

This song could be classed as a power ballad but that does not come close. You hang on every word. The song is so well written you feel the pain inside yourself and when the guitar wizard Yiannis Papadopoulos rips out one of the best solos I have heard in years he managed to take all the emotion and wring it out of his fretboard. This is sheer class.

After such an amazing track I was not expecting to be left covered in goosebumps and breathless but that is how “If These Walls Could Talk” left me.

This song effected me so much I played it again and again and I sat down and thought about that title. How many times in your life have you heard that phrase? It is a passing statement but after you have heard this track you will have a new understanding on what it can mean. The story that plays out will be ingrained in you. Another phrase you hear is don’t put me down till you walk a mile in my shoes and boy does Scott put you in his shoes.

The effect on me was so strong it took me back through my life and I realised I can tell my own story as I moved out of a very unhappy home at 17. I could not wait to leave, I left all the memories behind without a thought but when I left the flat I had bought when 17 I was last to leave the house. I walked through the rooms, I relived the good and far less bad and without thinking I have done that in every house since.

So strong the impact this song had on me it brought this all flooding back and I have a song so beautiful and powerful to reflect on this forever, never to forget again. The song was also reinforced through the addition of singer Dorothy. She is phenomenal on this song and the two voices worked so well together.

I admit Dorothy was unknown to me but after listening to the whole album here I searched her out on youtube and she is the real deal and she is also an emotionally driven songwriter. The first track I played was “Rest in Peace” and that is very, very powerful and hit a very sweet spot with me.

After being emotionally ripped apart with two slower tracks it was time to lift the spirit with “Black Butterfly” and this is a track laden with anthemic riffs, power and bombast. The breakdown is sheer genius.

The opening of “Quicksand” is metal heaven and then Scott steps in with those vocal lisps that only he does. They are over accentuated and this will be one of those songs that you can only sing the same way he does with a smile on your face.

This song just shows how incredible a songwriter this man is, another Yiannis solo obviously also helps.

“You’re not Alone” HAS to be a single. This is a song that I swear will save lives. The despairing, lonely and lost will cling to this beautiful number like a drowning person holding onto a lifebuoy.

You know this was Scott speaking to himself at his lowest ebb and I am so glad that the answers he found brought him back to help himself heal, to help others and to bring forth magnificent memories like this. Make no doubt about it these are not songs, they are memories.

Just quiet guitar and floating keys start “Dancing in the Rain” and this is definitely for the Creed crowd. Another deep and powerful track that shines throughout.

The album closes as it started, with hope on “Weight of the World”. Musically it is very simple but with Scott’s voice and message the song soars…like a weight has been lifted and you can carry on.

Higher Power is a masterpiece, Take all of Scott Stapp’s previous work and this for me sits atop. This is a mans journey, a mans pain laid bare but embraced in the flaws that saw him reach those depths along with all the bad breaks.

It is well known Scott is a man of faith and the fact that this broken man picked himself up, brushed himself down and became the man, musician and guiding light he is today may very well be proof there is a higher power.

Higher Power track listing:
1. Higher Power    
2. Deadman’s Trigger    
3. When Love Is Not Enough    
4. What I Deserve (feat. Yiannis Papadopoulos)
5. If These Walls Could Talk (feat. Dorothy)
6. Black Butterfly    
7. Quicksand (feat. Yiannis Papadopoulos)
8. You’re Not Alone    
9. Dancing in the Rain (feat. Yiannis Papadopoulos)
10. Weight of the World    

Higher Power will be available in the following formats:
-Digital Album    
-CD Digisleeve 
-Solid Viola Gatefold Vinyl LP        
-Black/Red Splatter Gatefold LP – Die Hard Edition w/ Slipmat & Record Butler (Napalm Mail Order Only, Limited to 300)


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