When Scott Stapp announced his signing with Napalm Records in late February this year, the message was clear that the co-founder and frontman for Creed wasn't forsaking the hard-rocking sound or the heartfelt roots of faith and hope which are so emblematic of his songwriting legacy.

By the time “Purpose For Pain” launched a month later as the first single for “The Space Between the Shadows,” Stapp’s blistering, unadulterated accountability in lines like “I fought the devil and he won,” conveyed pain and truth in a whole new context.

The accompanying video drew not just from universal themes of child abuse, but from the artist’s personal background of paternal abandonment.

The resurgence of the artist over the driving bass line, guitar, and drums of the introductory song was only the beginning of the personal revelations to be offered from this artist. This sonic journey is more than coming to the truth with one's maker and mistakes, as in 2013’s “Proof of Life.” It is about celebrating life as it is every day, anew, and embracing self-forgiveness as much as from the divine. It is a call to the world that we can make things better if we truly choose to take courage.

Refreshed confidence and changing the life script

The label displayed continuing confidence in Scott Stapp and his fan base, releasing three more tracks in advance of the official release date of July 19 for “The Space Between the Shadows.” “Name” was the next autobiographical ode, one that literally could have been pulled from Scott Stapp’s journals. Once more, the song delves into the damage done by the loss of a father, even harder by choice than by death.

“It's so hard to forgive/Even harder to forget,” remind the lyrics.

The vulnerability of such truth exposes courage of immense proportions in the artist, and the closing lyrics echoed the promise and pledge of the album title to his own children. “I will be the space between the shadows/I will be the light inside the sorrow,” and most importantly, “my son will never know that pain.”

“Face of the Sun” followed last month, and the groove-driven rock ballad of becoming greater than all that comes against anyone is as uplifting as it gets.

Scott Stapp has known more than one fall from public grace, but never lost his intimate belief in the Redeemer. “Fly like a flame through the face of the sun,” urges the song. “Rise with the fire till the battle is won,” exclaims the unmistakable baritone, building to the ultimate prize, “in the name of.” Solutions in place of self recur as a theme in the collection.

Gone Too Soon” has become cherished already on Stapp's current tour in support of “The Space Between the Shadows.” The song was released with the tour already underway, and it intermingles the pain of loss with the promise that “it's not the end.” The heartfelt tenderness tempers the pathos, and this song may ultimately become one of the songwriter’s sing-along classics.

Whether future generations relate to the losses of Soundgarden's Chris Cornell or Linkin Park's Chester Bennington or someone else dearly loved, the feelings are the same.

Tuning into heaven

Heaven in Me” is a divinely-blazing star among the selections. With uncompromising accountability, the artist catalogs every misdeed, and still realizes the spark of inner faith from a loving God that never let go. The backdrop of acoustic guitars only makes the starkly personal lyrics more meaningful. This is one to make listeners tremble.

Survivor” is a surging, unflinching rocker that roars with defiance to self-destruction. From the smoother ballads to big arena rock, the majority of the tracks featured on “The Space Between the Shadows” are collaborative efforts between Stapp, Marti Frederiksen, and producer-writer Scott Stevens, with contributions from Blair Daly, Zac Malloy and Kevin “Thrasher” Gruft. Make no mistake that the integrity of the Scott Stapp imprint still carries forth.

Wake Up Call” features a choir of youthful voices, two of whom are Scott Stapp’s own children. Their lifting, hopeful tones perfectly set the stage for this questioning, searching plea for a better world. Hope on the other side of struggle has been a hallmark of Stapp’s catalog, but this time, he asks “How many times before you lose it all?” The question can mean a personal situation or a pandemic one, and the answer has to come from hearts of faith making the choice to work together, “if you wanna.” No gain comes in isolation.

Red Clouds” depicts a powerful, foreboding vision. “Are we bleeding?” asks opening verse, wondering if the sense of empathy and humanity has completely left the world. “Hatred won’t let the love get through” asserts another line. The confession comes as “the blood that's on your hands, it's on mine, too,” and only a divine cleansing yields redemption. Truth and action must replace the apathy more deadly than any spear.

Ready to Love” is a moving and absorbing love song, once more, ringing with accountability, but also resolute in not moving backward. Its reflections chronicle the full journey of the man and the ones who stood behind him under the shelter of faith.

Mary's Crying” could be considered an up-tempo “Let It Be.” The liturgical imagery compliments the hope that we as human beings can comfort and wipe away the real tears of those around us in simple ways, not merely the ones appearing on statues. Prepare for a heart-tugger.

Last Hallelujah” is the closer, another song rich in imagery and spiritual significance—against driving riffs. It's repeating chorus reminds that time and this life itself is finite, and today, this hour, is all that is sure. The “man with the crown of thorns” knew when his time had come. Frail humans are usually not so fortunate. Each of us should be compelled to make the “last hallelujah” one that matters.

The Space Between the Shadows” wraps around the big issues in this brief life, and it’s guaranteed not to leave bruises from a biblical assault, but it’s very likely to leave any listener longing for more.

PLEASE NOTE THAT NO COMPENSATION OF ANY FORM WAS RECEIVED IN EXCHANGE FOR THIS REVIEW.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!
Click to read more and watch the video