Picks and Pans Review: Scott Stapp

updated 11/28/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/28/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Great Divide

[STARS 3]

Despite selling 25 million albums, Creed was always considered the poor man's Pearl, Jam making frontman Scott Stapp the post-grunge answer to Eddie Vedder. But now Stapp has done something Vedder never did by stepping out on his own. And this rock-solid solo debut—which sounds an awful lot like his old band that split up last year—shows that Stapp needs Creed a lot less than Creed needs him. Stapp announces his independence with the blistering one-two punch of "Reach Out" and "Fight Song," as if to assure Creed fans that he hasn't gone soft and taken the singer-song-writer route. Elsewhere Stapp, who wrote all his own material and coproduced with John Kurzweg (who also worked on all of Creed's discs), piles the hooks, the guitars and his booming baritone on earnest rockers like the power ballad "Surround Me" and the soaring title track. The latter, which alludes to Stapp's breaking free from Creed, is one of many cuts that reference the singer's strong Christian beliefs. He even brings in a gospel choir for the healing closer "Broken."

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