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Latest Rascal Flatts Album Good, but Fails to Meet Expectations

Observer Scene | Friday, October 12, 2007

Expectations for Rascal Flatts are high. From its self-titled first album through the four albums that followed, the group has been a success story. But its latest album does not deliver up to standards. While it still appealing, it simply does not have the strength of the band’s previous releases. The beauty of Rascal Flatts is in the combination of amazing lyrics and heart-gripping music. The band’s style extends the movement to revolutionize country into a truly national phenomenon – one that stays true to its country-western roots but appeals to a wider audience. And the group was incredibly successful. In 2006, the sale of Rascal Flatts’ albums composed an astonishing seven percent of all country music albums sold. The group is particularly unique in the number of singles released per CD. Rascal Flatts has released 27 singles from the 5 albums, with the majority of the “Feels Like Today” and “Me and My Gang” albums being released over the span of two years. Of these singles, eight have been top hits on the country charts, and 18 have cracked the overall U.S. charts. Rascal Flatts’ influence has been felt in many domains, and its music can be recognized from films such as “Cars,” which features the band’s cover of “Life is a Highway” – a cover that is arguably better than the original. The group rose out of Nashville – country capital of the nation. Gary LeVox is lead vocalist; Jay DeMarcus is harmony vocalist and on bass guitar, guitar and piano; and Joe Don Rooney is on harmony vocals, electric guitar, steel guitar and mandolin. Three songs have already been released from the newest album, “Still Feels Good.” “Take Me There” was the first released and has already topped country charts. The second released, “Revolution,” is a part of the soundtrack for “Evan Almighty.” And “Still Feels Good” is climbing the charts as well. This album has a lot to live up to – especially with all four of the group’s previous albums achieving double platinum (“Rascal Flatts” and “Melt”) or quadruple platinum status (“Feels Like Today” and “Me and My Gang”). “Still Feels Good” is undoubtedly a great album. Rascal Flatts has the typical great sound and vocals. Yet while this album might still feel good, it just doesn’t sound as good as the last two albums. It’s not quite the worst of the five, but it doesn’t even come close to matching the top two albums. It lacks the surge of energy in “Me and My Gang” and the passionate love songs of “Feels Like Today.” It is instead something more akin to “Melt.” A few great songs, pleasant to listen to, but nothing that just makes getting out of bed in the morning a must. “Take Me There” is the only song that is reminiscent of the band’s best romantic lyrics. It oozes with the simple purity of love that makes Rascal Flatts so endearing. The rest of the songs, however, are a bit lovelorn and even border on that whiney pop-country that is so frequently criticized by lyrical critics.  But the pull of Rascal Flatts’ voices and style is still a pull that makes the album a required indulgence for the true fan. It will be a platinum album, and the singles will still top the charts. Rascal Flatts is just that good. Even its mediocre music for is amazing.