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Rascal Flatts' change for the better
on April 4, 2012
I've been a fan of Rascal Flatts for years, so I always make an effort to get their albums as soon as they're released. Rascal Flatts is my favorite band; I love all of their music, but I admit that some songs are better than others, as are some albums. If I were rating this based on my own liking, I'd give all their albums 5 stars, every time. However, I'm going to give an objective overview of their new album in hopes that it will help some people decide whether they want to give this album a listen.
1. "Changed" - The album starts out with a strong ballad, a la Rascal Flatts style. After a few seconds, fans of the boys' other albums will immediately recognize the emotional, heart-felt style of this ballad. Furthermore, the lyrics start out with a religious overtone, something that is usually only hinted at. I'm not religious, myself, but those who are will connect even more with this song. Even so, the song is about changing for the better, which is something that anyone can identify with. Overall a strong song and a great addition to RF's repertoire. 9/10
2. "Banjo" - The lead single off the album plays a lot like "Me and My Gang" mixed with songs like "Break Away" that deal with getting away from a busy lifestyle and seeking comfort in a quiet, peaceful place. The music itself, as you may have guessed, features quite a bit of the banjo, giving the song a true country feel without getting too carried away. Just a fun song, great for radio and road trips. 8.5/10
3. "Hot in Here" - Here we get a taste of Gary's vocal dynamics a bit more than "Changed" and "Banjo." This is a good example of Rascal Flatts' lyrical style; all about passionate love and being overwhelmed by a significant other. The melody is great in this one, and the overall feel of the song is somewhere between mellow and exuberant; not too fast-paced but still an upbeat love song true to Rascal Flatts' style. 8.5/10
4. "Come Wake Me Up" - This song immediately stands out from the rest and is sure to be a hit for fans all over. The style isn't too innovative, but Gary does an absolutely amazing job of putting emotion into the lyrics. The feel of the song reminds me a bit of "Forever," but the song isn't too similar to any of their previous songs, making it stand out even more. A very powerful and moving ballad. 9.5/10
5. "She's Leaving" - One of RF's more twangy country songs, reminds me a bit of "Bob that Head" in terms of tempo and beat. Told from a third person perspective, the song talks about a girl leaving a guy for a better scene. A really catchy chorus and excellent guitar riffs make this song an overall good song, but it doesn't stand out much beyond that. 7.5/10
6. "Let it Hurt" - The words of wisdom in here are "Sometimes the only way around it is to let love do its work." This song is about the difficulties of being in love, and a bit more honest than other songs because of it. Still, there's a glimmer of hope hidden in there: there's good and bad parts to love, but it's all worth it in the end. A great ballad true to Rascal Flatts style, not quite as powerful as "Come Wake Me Up" but still an overall great song. 8/10
7. "Lovin' Me" - A fairly laid back love song, not too over the top but a nice reflection of a loving relationship. The chorus is a little repetitive, but it grows on you after a while. Reminds me quite a bit of their early work with a modern feel to it. 7.5/10
8. "Hurry Baby" - A tender song with a nice melody. The chorus is the singer's way of asking a girl to "hurry" and get back to him so they can spend time together. Overall a strong song that doesn't overreach its ability to make a statement. The guitar solo in here is particularly great and adds a nice cherry on top to a well-rounded song. 8/10
9. "Sunrise" - One of my personal favorites, this song definitely sounds like Rascal Flatts. The song starts out in a laid back fashion and builds up to a melodic chorus. The whole song feels great and is another good example of a well-rounded song that doesn't take it too far. A tender ballad that doesn't get too cheesy, real relaxing to listen to. 9/10
10. "Great Big Love" - Starts out with a country-pop feel, the singer talks about a difficult day that is worth it in the end because he gets to spend time with his significant other. The chorus of this song is probably one of my favorites of any of their songs, though the song does sound slightly unbalanced because of it. Still a great song overall, with just enough of a country feel to appeal to fans of modern country as well as pop music. 8.5/10
11. "A Little Home" - A real sentimental song about finding comfort in one's home--and more importantly, one's family. Another relaxing song with a nice message, and an all-around nice country ballad. The best part of this song, in my opinion, is that both Jay (bass player) and Joe Don (guitarist) get a small part on lead vocals. Both guys have great voices, which is what makes Rascal Flatts' harmonies so fantastic. 8.5/10
- - Bonus Songs - -
The bonus songs are well worth the extra couple dollars, but aren't necessarily an essential addition to RF's collection of songs.
12. "Friday" - No, not a cover of Rebecca Black's song, thank God. A really fun song, though, about making it through the week and then letting loose on the weekend. Real reminiscent of "Bob that Head" with a catchier chorus, a bit like "Me and My Gang" in style. This is a great song to have as a bonus song, since it will appeal most to die-hard Flatts fans. 8/10
13. "Fall Here" - My personal favorite bonus song, a bit like "Sunrise" in style: not too eccentric, but with a nice message and just a great feel to it. The singer implores a girl not to give up on guys and "don't let some fool give us all a bad name." Reminds me a bit of a mellower "Love Who You Love," definitely a Rascal Flatts-style song that doesn't sound too much like any of their other songs. A cool guitar solo rounds off this nice song. 9/10
14. "Right One Time" - An upbeat, country-rock song that doesn't get too carried away. Another one of those typical Rascal Flatts-type songs that regular fans will enjoy, but won't necessarily attract too many new fans. Reminds me a lot of Keith Urban's songs (I am a fan of his too, so I consider this a good thing), but still an original feel. 8.5/10
15. "Next to You, Next to Me" - I have mixed feelings about this song, but I'm going to be objective here. It's by no means a bad song, but it isn't very typical of Rascal Flatts. Now, depending on who you are, this could be a good or bad thing. It's a country/bluegrass style song, and has been described as a "cute" country song. Lyric-wise, the song is real straightforward, like "I'm perfectly content sitting by you and having a good time." It doesn't pull anything dramatic, so that's a plus. The bridge in particular reminds me of "Mud on the Tires" by Brad Paisley (another great song, so a great connection). Not my favorite song, but sure to appeal to country fans more than some of their songs. 8/10
I've been a Flatts fan since somewhere between "Feels Like Today" and "Me and My Gang," and I'm really liking this new album. I think that they've written quite a few great songs without venturing too far beyond their comfort zone, something which is very logical considering the success of their past albums. As a whole, the album reminds me most of "Nothing Like This" and "Melt" but still sets a pretty distinct standard on its own. I want to take some space here to note each member's contributions, as well:
Gary LeVox (lead vocal) - Gary is one of the most dynamic voices in country music. He has a wide range and does an astounding job of conveying emotion in his songs, and that really comes through in this album. Together, the boys sound amazing, and that is evident on pretty much every one of their songs. If they were a bit younger and had started making music about a decade earlier, they probably could have pulled off one hell of a boy band.
Jay DeMarcus - Jay is one of the most consistent bass players out there, and not just in country. Bass players get a bad rap for being non-essential members of bands, but as a bass player myself I think this is a load of hooey. RF's songs don't require too complex bass playing skills, but a lot of their songs have amazing bass lines nonetheless. I didn't pick any particular songs from this album, but a good example of his prowess is "I Won't Let Go" from their previous album which, although it is a relatively slow ballad, has a bass line that goes unfairly unnoticed.
Joe Don Rooney - The band's lead guitarist is great at playing those riffs that just add so much to their music. You won't see him shredding like Slash onstage, but he still does one hell of a job. I particularly enjoyed the solo on "Right One Time," which is a bit like Brad Paisley's style. I think Joe Don should have a slightly bigger role in writing the group's songs, considering the fantastic songs he has written/co-written in the past. Like Jay, he has a great singing voice, and I'm glad he got to show that off more than usual.
Anyway, an overall fantastic album that Rascal Flatts fans will love. I think fans of country in general would also love the album, since it has more of a country feeling overall than most of their albums. If you're wondering why I didn't give any song a 10/10, it's because I don't believe that I can objectively identify a song as a perfect 10. Still, if I were rating this all based on what I like, I'd probably give all the songs 10s.
Final Overall Rating: 4.5/5 stars