Monday, January 09, 2006

The Great Divide

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Voice of Creed Returns


I have been a big fan of Creed ever since the release of the band’s third album, Weathered. The moment I heard the opening lines of “One Last Breath,” I fell in love with the distinct sound of Mark Tremonti’s powerful guitar riffs along with Scott Stapp’s signature raw, gritty voice. Like the majority of Creed fans across the globe, I was surprised and upset when the band announced that they were splitting up and pursuing their own separate careers. Mark Tremonti and fellow Creed instrumentalists teamed up with former Mayfield Four lead vocalist, Myles Kennedy, to form the band, Alter Bridge. It was not long before they released their debut album, One Day Remains.
After being so impressed with the sound and success of Alter Bridge, I had even higher hopes for a project from the voice of Creed himself: Scott Stapp. In my own opinion, Scott has one of the music industry’s most unique and incredible voices. He has long proven to be a topic of discussion among Christian circles due to his many vague references to the Christian faith. Shortly after Creed’s controversial breakup, however, Scott finally came out and publicly proclaimed his personal faith in Jesus Christ. In an interview with CCM Magazine in October 2004, Scott made the following statement: “I finally got to that place where I looked up to God and said ‘You can have me; You can have everything I’ve got if You’ll just take me back.” Scott released his first single, “Relearn Love,” on the compilation album, Passion of Christ Songs. Finally, in November 2005, Scott released his debut album, The Great Divide.
It was an awesome feeling to hear Scott’s gutsy voice again, but this time with a fresh new start. Of course, the album is certainly not blatantly Christian in its tone, but veiled within the lyrics of the songs are stories of personal change and redeeming love.
It seemed to me that the entire first half of the album was dedicated to Scott’s slow but steady journey back to the roots of his faith. “Reach Out” and “Fight Song,” the two heaviest songs on the album, both convey Scott’s coming to terms with the mistakes of his past and radically pursuing a change in himself and the world around him. He says he must “learn to listen to that voice inside my soul” (“Reach Out”). He realizes that it took him time to get past the hatred inside his mind (“Fight Song”). “Hard Way” is a warning to others about having to face the consequences of bad choices just as he had to learn the hard way. In “Justify,” Scott makes the bold statement after a showdown with the devil that he no longer has to justify the way he lives his life thanks to a second chance. “Let Me Go” is a plea for escape from the lies and the deceit the world would have us live under. The next three songs begin the second half of the album and clearly reflect Scott's relationship with his Heavenly Father. Scott cries out to God for comfort and protection in “Surround Me.” In “The Great Divide,” he recounts his tale of running in search of God and then God coming to set him free. “The Great Divide” is by far the best song on this album due to its message of reassurance in that we know that no matter how far we stray from God, He is always right behind us. The title track also features Scott thanking God for giving him a reason to live and the freedom to live his life to the fullest. “Sublime” simply asks God to be there for him through eternity. “You Will Soar” is very reminiscent of Creed’s “Don’t Stop Dancing” from their Weathered album. It encourages us to “keep hoping and dreaming” and to “keep your head way up in the clouds and never let them bring you down.” The last song on the album, “Broken,” is dominated by a soft piano and strings background and an accompanying gospel choir. Within the lyrics, Scott gives hope to those of us who have been scared and confused by stating that we do not have to be overcome by our fears and doubts. Rather, he says that we should “look above, find Love and you’ll find eternal life.”
Overall, this album was a big hit for me. I love the way Scott recounts his story of pain and frustration but then gives us hope and reassurance for the journey ahead. That is, after all, what the Christian life is all about. We all have our own experiences with pain and suffering. We’ve all strayed from the straight and narrow at some point in our lives and lost our way because of it. Scott Stapp gives us a picture of how Christ saves us from our fears and confusion and gives us all a hope to hang on to. For anyone who has forgotten what life was like before redemption and the gradual change following it, The Great Divide is definitely worth listening to.