Me And My Gang

Rascal Flatts

Lyric Street, 2006

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


By the time their fourth album Me And My Gang arrived, Rascal Flatts had hit upon a winning formula: Male vocal harmonies, professionally written and produced adult contemporary pop with a hint of country, and universally relatable lyrics about heartbreak, staying strong and partying. This is the album that really broke the trio through to a bigger audience, mostly on the strength of the hit ballads "Stand" and "What Hurts The Most," and it's a solid effort throughout.

Granted, there's not much in the way of actual country music here, nor are there many moments where this feels organic. The music and lyrics were mostly written by professionals and each song has around eight musicians plus Gary LeVox singing, giving the whole thing the feeling of a committee-approved record designed to appeal to everybody. That would normally leave a sour taste, but the material rises above because of the simple yet heartfelt lyrics, which are usually the strength of every Rascal Flatts album.

"Stand," which opens the record, is a deliberate piece about enduring the worst life has to offer and then "on your knees, you look up / Decide you've had enough / You get mad, you get strong / Wipe your hands, shake it off / Then you stand." At some point, we have all been there. "To Make Her Love Me" is a paean to God who, if He made mountains and canyons, can surely make a woman fall in love with a yearning man, and the ballad "My Wish" is a simple message of good wishes to anybody (an ex, a child, a best friend) that their life becomes all they want and deserve.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As ever, Rascal Flatts does breakup songs like nobody else, and this one has plenty: "Yes I Do," "Pieces," "What Hurts the Most" and "I Feel Bad," with the latter being the best of the crop. Imagine your soon-to-be ex walking out on you, wondering why you don't feel terrible, then feeling bad because you feel like you should after all you have given in the relationship, and you will be able to relate.

Most of the songs are slow or mid-tempo, offering few surprises (save for the slight reggae of "Yes I Do"), so when the band tries to "rock out" by turning up the speed and energy, the results are a bit awkward. "Backwards," the only country moment here, tries to be funny with its one joke about playing a country song backwards (you get your truck back, etc.), and the title cut is a party anthem with talkbox guitar that elicits only a shrug, although drunken country fans will dance to this one and shout "Wooo!" when the song tells them to raise their hands. It's all very professionally done.

The two closing songs tackle two different lyrical themes. "Ellsworth" is a heartfelt, if somewhat trite, examination of Alzheimer's and its effect on an elderly lady who can still remember her childhood in the titular city. "He Ain't the Leavin' Kind," meanwhile, is a song of faith; the first verse concerns efforts to remove God from money, school and an Alabama courthouse, and the second concerns a woman who lost her faith for a while but realized God was still with her. Rather than being corny, it's a wonderful reminder to Christians (who probably make up the majority of this band's audience) that is never once pandering.

The truth is that Me And My Gang, in trying to please everybody, ends up smack dab in the middle of the road with a bevy of professional, not terribly memorable songs outside of the hits. However, as a relaxing country pop listen with relatable lyrics and stories, this one is just fine.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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