Still Feels Good

Rascal Flatts

Lyric Street, 2007

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Since Me And My Gang was such a big hit, the braintrust that is Rascal Flatts (three performers, six or seven songwriters, five to six additional musicians per song, and God knows how many producers) decided to rewrite the album one year later and call it Still Feels Good.

There is almost no difference between the two. Breakup songs? Three. Awkward cheesy party song? Check. Songs about how great your girlfriend is? Plenty. Downbeat closing songs that tackles a tough issue? Yep. As always, the music is immaculately produced, the vocal harmonies are stellar, the playing is professional and the lyrics are pretty much the only reason to pay attention.

If there is any difference, it's that the songs seem to be a little more optimistic as a whole, with the balance tipping toward love songs. And as before, there is almost nothing country about this band, but rather country-tinged adult MOR pop that plays well in the car, the office, the background. Even the track layout is similar.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

That's not to say this isn't recommended, though. Fans of the band who didn't arrive with the previous effort assuredly came on board with this, and newcomers are advised to pick this one up, as it has everything they like about the band. As for individual tracks, "Here" is the best of the love songs, adding a dash of mandolin to a song about how every moment in one's life (especially love life) has led them to this moment, that what you went through before made you the person you are now.

Hit single "Still Feels Good" is an adept pop rocker about the things you only share with your significant other. While a poor choice as an album opener, “Take Me There" (co-written by Kenny Chesney) is a fine song about the beginning of a relationship where one wants to learn all about the other, and "Winner at a Losing Game" is as good a modern country ballad as any other. "No Reins" seems calculated to blare from the car radio of every newly single gal with lines like "All she's ever felt is held back / She says 'It's kinda nice to hear myself laugh / She's gonna do a lot more of that / She's makin' plans and makin' tracks ...Finally gets to live her life that way / No fear, no fences, nobody, no reins," but the end result is better than it sounds.

"Secret Smile," "Every Day" and "Better Now" are all fine album tracks, not terribly memorable but just fine in the context of the disc, while "She Goes All The Way" is probably the most sexually overt these nice boys ever get; the song even features an underutilized cameo from Jamie Foxx adding soulful backup vocals. The closer this time is "It's Not Supposed to Go Like That," which deals with a child accidentally shooting his friend and a teenage drunk driving accident ("Now there's a wreath and two small crosses on the right side of the road / Reminders of a love that won't grow / I wonder if guardian angels cry / When they see it all played out"). As with the other songs, the trio really sells the lyrics, steering them from cheesy and/or banal into something moving and relatable.

So while there is a definite been-there feeling to all of Still Feels Good, that's not necessarily a bad thing for Rascal Flatts fans or those into mild, unchallenging country-flavored pop with decent lyrics. But on their fifth album, the formula is starting to feel a little stale.

Rating: B-

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