When you think of mainstream country music, one group that refuses to be overlooked just happens to be the Grammy award winning trio Rascal Flatts. The band formed in 2000 out of Nashville, Tenn. Members include lead vocalist Gary LeVox, bass guitarist Jay DeMarcus and guitarist Joe Don Rooney.
The trio just released their fifth studio album “Still Feels Good” on Lyric Street Records with 13 brand new tracks. But, can it give Reba McEntire a run for the money on the country sales charts? Let’s see.
The chart-topping first single “Take Me There” begins the album.
“There's a place in your heart nobody’s been / Take me there / Things nobody knows, not even your friends / Take me there / Tell me about your mama, your daddy, your hometown / Show me around, I want to see it all / Don't leave anything out,” LeVox sings.
I can see why the song would be the group’s fastest rising single of their career. The radio-friendly country song penned by Kenny Chesney describes any relationship in the southern region.
So far, things "feel good."
“And I wouldn’t change a thing / I'd walk right back through the rain / Back to every broken heart / On the day that it was breakin' / And I'd retrieve all the years / And be thankful for the tears / I've cried with every stumbled step / That led to you and got me here, right here,” all three members of the group sing on the second track “Here.”
The Rascal Flatts play it safe with this track. "Here" you have your typical, yet good, country ballad. There’s not much else to it, other than great vocals.
Follow along, and the group performs “Bob That Head” for the next song. By the title alone, you can tell this will be a song to drive to. It’s not a clever title, but an effective for the song.
“Bob that head / Every Friday night / Got the windows rolled down / The seat reclined givin' everybody that rock on sign / Yeah, turn it up to 10 / Hey, y'all join in / Bob that head / Come on, bob that head / Bob that head,” the Rascal Flatts chant.
You are quickly caught up in the song. It's fun, and you are almost forced to like it. So far, it "still feels good."
“I know that you're leavin' / As soon as the sun / Comes through the window / There's no talking this over / The damage is done / There's just too much hurt / Too much to forgive / Oh, but we both know / We weren’t always like this,” LeVox begins.
The chorus follows as he begs to “Help Me Remember." This is probably my favorite track on the album. The typical country ballad fits together perfectly with vocals, strings and lyrics. If they release this song as a single in the future, I predict another hit for the trio.
Track number five, the title track, is “Still Feels Good." Ironically fitting, things "feel good" until the end of this song.
“We made some crazy plans, had some crazy dreams / And now that we've reached a few you would think / That it would get old to you and me / But it still feels good, still feels good,” the guys sing on this upbeat cut about looking back.
“Winner at a Losing Game” is next. Here is where the album starts to slump.
"Have ever had to love someone / That just don't feel the same / Tryin' to make somebody care for you / The way I do / Is like tryin' to catch the rain / And if love is really forever / I'm a winner at a losin' game,” LeVox softly sings.
The lyrics are touching, but the arrangement is boring. It sounds so familiar that before it begins you are ready to change it, thinking you’ve heard it a million times before. It is a shame, because it could be a really great song.
You have to love the opening lines of the next song “No Reins."
“She left that loser in a dust cloud / Heart in his hand, chin on the ground,” LeVox sings bitterly.
The message behind this song tells of letting go and becoming free with "no reins." It’s clever; it’s good, but something seems to be missing. I’m just not sure what.
“I come around all broken down and crowded out / And you're comfort / Sometimes the place I go / Is so deep and dark and desperate / I don't know, I don't know,” the Rascal Flatts harmonize on the next song titled “Every Day."
Really, I don’t know either. They sing about someone saving them from themselves. It depicts a story of sticking to something through thick and thin, but I just do not like it. I cannot justify a reason, so you’ll have to be the judge of this one.
“Baby, you make the sun shine down / You make the sun shine down / You can paint the darkest clouds / And turn them into rainbows / You take your secret smile / The one that turns me on / Hey girl, you've been what I've waited for,” the group sings as the chorus.
From the second this song starts, I was lost. By the chorus, I was asking what am I listening to? I might like this song more if I knew why they chose the lyrics they did. It’s obvious the song is about finding someone special, but come on, the rainbows on “Secret Smile” are just plain cheesy.
Finally, it’s time for a good song. “Better Now.” Let’s hope things get better and not just for now.
“Next time I won’t suffer this kind of pain / Own my mistakes / Not just pass off all the blame / If you were here / We could figure this out / Then I wouldn’t be better / I’d just be better now,” a broken LeVox sings.
Every aspect of this song is incredible. The meaning behind the lyrics alone gives a reason to give the song a listen.
I am not sure if the group meant to push boundaries with the next song, but it does appear a bit misleading. To begin with, the title is “She Goes All The Way." Secondly, Jamie Foxx joins in on the chorus.
“With every move she makes / I'm deeper than I've been / Holding on and letting go / She just keeps givin' in / Takin' me higher and further / There she goes again givin' more than she takes / 'Cause it's more than love she makes / She goes all the way,” LeVox and Foxx sing.
Despite the interesting title and lyrics, the song comes as a surprise. It is good, and I mean really good. It might just be one of the stand out tracks on the album.
“How strong are you now / Without her around / You can't even keep one little bitty tear / From fallin' down / Tell me how strong are you know,” LeVox sings with a sound of pain.
What makes this a gem song, no doubt about the message within the lyrics. You can pretend to be strong all you want, but in the end, you will break. It’s best to let your feelings out in the beginning to save the pain you could cause yourself.
The last track is titled “It’s Not Supposed to Go Like That." The saying “save the best for last” definitely fits in the case of this album.
The song tells the realistic and heartbreaking story of Jimmy and his girlfriend dying in a freak accident.
“I wonder if guardian angels cry / When they see it all played out / And as they stand with their hands tied / Oh, do they cry out loud / It's not suppose to go like that / No, it's not supposed to go like that,” the Rascal Flatts echo as the album wraps.
Overall, I give the album a B-. It starts out strong, lacks in the middle and picks back up towards the end. I’ve heard better from the Rascal Flatts though. I prefer their previous albums, for example, “Me And My Gang." However, that does not mean this album does not deserve a fair listen. There are a few great tracks.
Depending on where the album is purchased, there are bonus tracks available. Wal-Mart and other locations offer the bonus track “Revolution." If you purchase the album at Target, a five-track bonus album is included that features the tracks “I Was Born To," “The Way," “Lonesome Road," “I Can Almost" and a new mix of their 2006 single “My Wish."
No doubt this will be another successful record for the trio. Reba McEntire holds the top spot on the charts at the moment with her “Duets” album according to The Billboard 200 chart, but the Rascal Flatts could take that spot if their sales are strong in the first week.
My vote goes to McEntire, but second place to a country icon isn’t bad for the Rascal Flatts.
Current news releases, tour dates and a complete list of lyrics can be found at the band's Web site.
ŠThe Voice 2007
Revised 01/13/2008 03:24:57 PM — http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/5_5/rascal.htm