Rascal Flatts – Take Me There (Lyric Street Records)
It’s very easy for people to dismiss Rascal Flatts as a country boy band. Others go as far as saying they’re the reason mainstream country radio is ‘as bad as it is’ right now. both types of people will argue to their hearts’ content about such things just as the Flatt fanatics will argue the opposite viewpoints. And it’s hard to argue with the numbers. They released the highest selling album in 2006 (aside from “High School Musical“) and have a big shot at passing up Kanye West for most units sold in a debut week (“Me And My Gang” sold 700,000 or so units its first week). With all of this said one might be asking, does the record stand up to the trio’s older stuff? In a word, yes.
They kick off the record with their current #1 single, the Kenny Chesney co-write “Take Me There.” It’s the kind of song that Flatts fans and radio have come to expect from the trio. There’s a positively romantic vibe to the song as a guy wishes to get to know a girl well. Produced again by Dann Huff, the song has the typical punchy and glossy production. The band (and they are such things since all three members play instruments with Joe Don Rooney playing the lead guitar while Jay Demarus plays the bass) scored tremendously with three big hits from the pen of Jeffrey Steele and “Here” is one of two songs co-written by one of the ‘hitmen’ of music row. It’s an uptempo, unabashedly romantic song that could very well be a wedding anthem. “Bob That Head” will probably be a radio single and a big hit but to me it just sounds like a retread of Montgomery Gentry’s “Hell Yeah” (also written by Steele) in both lyrical content and melody.
The first power ballad to appear on the record is the mighty fine Hillary Lindsey co-write “Help Me Remember” it’s a moody ballad that discusses how a couple is at the end of their relationship and finds the guy asking the woman to help him remember the way the relationship used to be. It’s one of those songs that is ever so slightly ‘country’ which is why it’s a likely choice for crossover AC chart success. “Still Feels Good” finds Rascal Flatts singing the antithesis of the previous track. It’s a song that’s ready for the arena with the 80’s band solo ragin’ at the end of the track. “No Reigns” too has the feel of an arena-ready, summertime, windows rolled-down radio anthem. It’s a song that talks about letting go and just living your life without anything holding you back. Jeffrey Steele’s name appears again in the credits next to the ballad “Every Day.” And it’s what I’ve come to expect from him, a steady, lyrically and melodically strong song. This time it’s a song that singer Gary LeVox can wrap his considerable vocal around. It has the sound of a radio hit as well.
“Secret Smile” is a song I had hoped was a cover of a fine Semisonic album track from a decade ago but it is a new song and it’s a fun little romantic song while “She Goes All The Way” will certainly get a lot of ‘ink’ for the mere presence of Oscar winning actor/singer Jamie Foxx. Jamie actually fits the song quite well and I now think that “All The Way” will be the crossover radio hit. Bobby Pinson is a fine singer/songwriter who’s gained success with Sugarland for “Want To” and now he could find even more success with the best song on “Still Feels Good.” “It’s Not Supposed To Go Like That” reminds me of the kind of song that reminds us of the fragility of life. About the only thing that would’ve made it a better song would’ve been if Huff would’ve left the production all acoustic.
In the end, Rascal Flatts has delivered a nice 12 track collection of songs that gives fans everything they’ve wanted and possibly then some. Rascal Flatts are a band that will most likely never appear in gossip columns or be pompous rock stars. They are a wholesome, boy-next-door type of group that lends to a longevity that many critics thought wouldn’t happen. Those critics will continue ‘hate’ the band.