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I travel to the States a lot, and hang around cowboys and in the desert where the only radio station you're likely to pick up plays country 24/7. Rascal Flatts are, for those of you not familiar with them, a band that you can't help but hear if you listen to a country radio station for even a short period of time. They released their first, self-titled, album in 2000 and are just getting better. "Feels Like Today" is their third album and was released in America in September 2004 and a year later over here.
As I downloaded the tracks I am unable to comment on the enhanced portion of the CD (it does have one) or any details of the CD booklet. The front cover has a picture of the three band members standing outside by some steps looking pretty miserable. Interestingly, Rascal Flatts never really look "country". No ten-gallon hats here, although personally I think they tend to look like they are trying too hard most of the time. But hey, this is about the music and not their personal style (or lack thereof)!
So here's my opinion on the tracks:
1. Where You Are - A peppy opener but it is not the best. It's upbeat and you can sing along to it but it is slightly cheesy. Not the best start to the album but I promise it gets better. 6/10.
2. Bless The Broken Road - Before I got this album, this was the only song I'd heard, and I'd heard it a lot. In fact, I was a little tired of hearing it. As a rule, overuse of the word "God" in a country song will generally induce an eye-roll from me and I will hit the skip button. I'm just not a fan of preachy, Jesus-loving country music. I recently listened to it afresh because it ironically became somewhat significant to me personally, and I realised it really is a beautiful song. (I still think it's a bit mushy, but I don't mind anymore)! 8/10
3. Then I Did - Another I can relate to. This song has more complex lyrics which don't exactly tell a story, but are less repetitive than some of their others. The verses are a little long, but I enjoyed it. 7/10.
4. Feels Like Today - Not a stand-out, but definitely a strong song to follow on from a good previous track. 6/10.
5. Fast Cars And Freedom - This is my favourite on the album, it's about a woman being reassured that even though she's getting older, her man still thinks of the old days when they were young and free when he looks at her and that she's never changed. It's upbeat and fun and for me it's my pick. 9/10
6. When The Sand Runs Out - It's a country album, so here's what you've been waiting for - the token dead friend. It's a pretty nice song though. 7/10.
7. Here's To You - Just a plain old feel-good song which is a thank-you to their fans. I think it would probably be appreciated a lot more at a concert than on a CD. 6/10.
8. Day Before You - The opening is a bit confusing, it sounds like it is going to be rockier number then gets quiet again, which is a little disappointing because a song with a bit more edge would have been nice at this point in the CD. Saying that, it's a really sweet song. 8/10.
9. Break Away - A nice upbeat track with more of a country feel to it. 7/10.
10. Holes - Really not a favourite. If any of the tracks let the CD down, it would be this in my opinion. It's just pretty boring and slow and sounds like I've heard it before. 5/10.
11. Oklahoma Texas Line - Probably one of the most country-sounding on the CD, and that's what I like. A really fun track. 9/10.
12. Skin (Sarabeth) - A hidden track which I kind of wish had tried harder to hide. This song is, in a word, cheesy. It's about a bald girl with cancer wishing she could have the perfect prom. Cue violins. I don't mean to be heartless, but the song makes me want to vomit, that's all. 3/10 for having a heart, I suppose.
So an average rating of 7 which is pretty good considering the hidden track was awful and dragged the average way down!
Although their vocals are very average, for me Rascal Flatts are a band that I will always turn to when I want some background music that wont distract me. I never tire of hearing their CDs and on days where I can't decide what I want to listen to I am always happy to settle for them. Fans of country music will no doubt already know of them and while more die-hard traditional country fans might find them too close to pop, they do have some great songs that you cant help but sing along to. If you're not already into country, they might also be a good place to start. They feel like a cookie-cutter pop-country band, but there actually isn't anyone else quite like them around.
Their lyrics however are very uninspired. Writing this review made me realise how bad. I was going to put my favourite lyrics from each song but a lot of them made me cringe when I saw them written down. Rascal Flatts write about half their own songs. If you can look past the cringeworthy use of rhyme sometimes, the songs are enjoyable.
If you like Feels Like Today, I highly recommend you check out their other CDs, especially the latest, Still Feels Good, and Me and My Gang. For me, their CDs never really have any truly weak tracks that I have to actually press skip for, they are all listenable at least.
Feels Like Today is currently on Amazon for £10.47 but you can probably pick it up cheaper on eBay and as they are so popular it is definitely available for download at various sources.
Also on Ciao under same name.
I love these guys!!! This new alblum has just as much sensation and feeling as all of the others!!! One question though......why is Jamie Fox's name not listed as an accompany in the song "She goes all the way"? Jamie and Gary sound unbelievable together!!! Keep making sensational music guys!!!!
This is a country music album by one of the most popular country music bands of recent years.
********How I discovered the Rascal Flatts
My road-to-Damascus conversion to liking country music was a bit like the one you get when you reach 30 and suddenly realise you'd rather listen to Radio 2 than Radio 1. My own epiphany occurred a few years ago when I was living in the Midwest. I was listening to some boring, relentless pop music station in my car and switched in desperation to one of the many country music stations offered in that fine North Dakotan settlement. I can't remember the first song I heard but after two or three, including 'Prayin' for Daylight' from the Rascal Flatt's first album, I was hooked. It helped that it was summer - country music is made for summer.
Country music doesn't have the depressed lyrics of the blues, nor the incessant plinkety plink of bluegrass (much as I like a bit of bluegrass now and again - who doesn't). The songs often have meaningful lyrics that add up to a story. There's a huge range of country music out there - it's not all Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton. The Dixie Chicks are a fairly well-known middle-of-the-road example and then the 'pop country' music style is, as the name suggests, a kind of crossover - Leanne Rimes, Shania Twain and Sara Evans are other examples. But my favourites are the Rascal Flatts. It's essentially melodic light pop with the odd fiddle (stop it, I mean violin) or mandolin thrown in.
********The Rascal Flatts themselves (the statistics and names are from www.rascalflatts.com)
The Rascal Flatts have only been in the public eye for about 5 years but shot to fame with their first album. They've sold 6 million records. They were the Country Music Awards group of the year in 2003 and 2004. There's three of them: Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney so I guess with names like that there were really only ever going to be either singers or hairdressers. I'm glad they went for the singing.
********The Album: Feels Like Today
'Feels Like Today' is the Rascal Flatt's third album ('Rascal Flatts' and 'Melt' are the others). Its themes are all about seizing the day, not regretting the past or at least learning from mistakes, appreciating what you have. It's one album that I listen to without skipping any tracks - the songs all have catchy melodies and well-crafted musicianship (in a country stylee).
Here are the tracks. I won't describe all of them - you can hear clips at artistdirect.com. They all have a high rating for singalongability and are well produced without sounding artificial.
**Where You Are - good album opener. Starts quietly but picks up. Sadly also has the cheesiest lyrics in the world.
**Bless The Broken Road - this song won a Grammy for Best Country Song in 2006. It's a great song (a cover I think) about thinking of past mistakes as steps that had to be taken to get to the ultimate love of his life. (I'm still at the mistakes part I think - poor me.)
**Then I Did - upbeat song about taking decisions - relationship vs job essentially.
**Feels Like Today - "I woke up this morning, with this feeling inside me that I can't explain, like a weight that I've carried's been carried away". This is a great morning song - makes you want to take on the day.
**Fast Cars and Freedom
**When The Sand Runs Out - quieter, reflective song about making the most of life - hence "I want to be running when the sand runs out"
**Here's To You - a song dedicated to, and all about, their fans.
**Day Before You
**Break Away - another toe-tapper. Very catchy chorus and 'escapist' lyrics.
**Oklahoma Texas Line
**Skin (Sarabeth) - hidden track. - this is hidden at the end of the previous track and is the most 'oprah' - about a girl who has chemotherapy and loses her hair, so a guy shaves his head to take her to the prom, so she won't feel so left out. It is redeemed by a good melody.
The cd is 'enhanced' - this means in this case that if you play it on your computer a screen comes up that provides a link to their website. You have to create a username/password to proceed, but then you will have access to such things as video commentary, a 'making the album' vid, and competitions.
The album is produced by Lyric Street Records and was released in September 2004 although it seems to be on Amazon at least under the label 'Angel' as of November 2005.
When the Rascal Flatts release their fourth album in April I would anticipate the price of this will go down. For the moment, it's £11.99 at Amazon.com, £12.99 at play.com (free P&P), and also pops up on ebay for around £4-5.
If you like a bit of folk, country or pop music, check out the Rascal Flatts. Although they're pretty commercial, they're heartfelt in their performances, accomplished as musicians, and for the less cynical among us, their 'song stories' are worth listening to. As far as their three albums go, I like their first self-titled one the best, but I still think this one is fab.
check out: www.rascalflatts.com
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Where You Are
2 Bless The Broken Road
3 Then I Did
4 Feels Like Today
5 Fast Cars And Freedom
6 When The Sand Runs Out
7 Here's To You
8 Day Before You
9 Break Away
11 Oklahoma Texas Line
12 Skin (Sarabeth)
13 Feels Like Today