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Country - Released May 19, 2017 | Big Machine Records, LLC

Booklet
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Country - Released January 1, 2014 | Big Machine Records, LLC

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Country - Released May 19, 2017 | Big Machine Records, LLC

Booklet
If the title of Back to Us suggests that the three members of Rascal Flatts have decided to ditch everything extraneous and return to their roots, well, that's intentional. Upon its spring 2017 release, Jay DeMarcus claimed in the press release, "There was a nostalgic feeling between the three of us while in the studio for this record, a feeling that was more reminiscent of our first albums," a move that might've been necessary after the band's sly modernization on 2014's Rewind. That album was recorded with producer Howard Benson -- whose best-known collaborations include Kelly Clarkson, 3 Doors Down, and DAUGHTRY -- who perhaps gave the record too bright a crossover sheen, but Back to Us finds the group collaborating with busbee, the producer who helmed Maren Morris' excellent 2016 debut, Hero. Back to Us isn't nearly as ambitious as Hero -- there's not a trace of hip-hop in its rhythms, although there is some R&B -- but busbee helps push the veteran trio toward a hipper adult contemporary. The shift is crystallized on "Vandalized," a song co-written by neo-outlaw sensation Chris Stapleton and Luke Laird: it's a soul song at its heart, so busbee gives its verses a nimble modern R&B flair, but Rascal Flatts straighten out the song by its chorus. No matter how many feints toward modernity the trio makes -- another is the Lauren Alaina duet "Are You Happy Now" -- the group remains cheerfully square, prizing gentle melodies, slick harmonies, and shiny surfaces. That's been their specialty since 2000, and Back to Us delivers the goods just as reliably as any of the nine albums they've released since. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 2006 | Lyric Street

Ever since their eponymous 2000 debut there has been more pop than country in Rascal Flatts' contemporary country-pop, but with each subsequent record the trio has been drifting slowly, steadily toward outright adult pop, which is where they arrive on their fourth album, 2006's Me and My Gang. Discounting the steel guitar that's used occasionally as tonal coloring, the most country song here is the jokey "Backwards," which blatantly (and proudly) recycles the old joke of "what happens when you play a country record backwards?" (the punch line is "Ya get your house back/Ya get your dog back," etc. -- although it is a little strange that in this version ya get your best friend Jack back before your wife). This isn't a complaint, just a matter of fact: while some country-pop does place equal emphasis on country, Rascal Flatts makes pop music for mature audiences under the guise of country, partially because pop music doesn't have much room for adults anymore. Not that Rascal Flatts are always serious -- there's the aforementioned "Backwards," but also the silly title track where the boys try to domesticate Big & Rich's outsized swagger by simplifying it, singing "la la la" on the bridge and throwing in a talk box guitar stolen from Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" -- but they do not make any concessions to sounding young, which does make them kind of unique among mainstream groups of any kind in 2006. Furthermore, Rascal Flatts are good at this kind of thing: they choose their material well, pick the right musicians and producers, and turn out appealing slick music that sounds good even when the songs themselves are kind of forgettable. And there are some forgettable tunes here, too -- there are also those that are memorable in their mawkishness, like "Ellsworth," which attempts to create a portrait a grandma losing her mind but is undone by its clunky heavy-handedness ("Grandma burned the biscuits/Nearly took the house down with it/Now she's in assisted livin'/We all knew that day would come") -- but as a whole, Me and My Gang holds together well, since the slower moments glide by on the same smooth, glistening surface as the tunes that catch hold, like the single "What Hurts Most." There are no great surprises here -- well, apart from the vague reggae rhythm that fuels "Yes I Do" -- but there are no disappointments, either. Rascal Flatts continue to deliver exactly what their fans have come to love and expect, and that's a virtue, since it is hard for pop groups of any stripe to be both consistent and reliable, which is exactly what the trio proves they are with this solid-as-a-rock fourth album. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released December 7, 2018 | Big Machine Records, LLC

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Country - Released January 1, 2000 | Lyric Street

Rascal Flatts are three average, nice guys. They make contemporary country-pop that's nice, but ever so slightly and satisfyingly a cut above average. Nothing on their eponymous debut deviates from the norm -- it's squarely down the center of the mainstream, edging closer to pop than it does to real country -- but it's sweetly endearing and unassuming. Take the lead song and single, "Prayin' for Daylight," for example. It's almost defiantly square, but the trio doesn't ever realize that it's not hip to be square -- the very quality that makes it so much fun. They revel in their warm harmonies, bright production, catchy mid-tempo pop tunes, and ballads of heartbreak and love that always seem happy. Rascal Flatts never really changes their approach at any point during the album -- many of the zippier songs sound a lot like "Prayin' for Daylight" and the slower numbers are just slower variations of that tune -- but that doesn't matter, since this is an amiable, well-crafted, professional record. Are there some slow moments? Well, yes, but they pass by easily, thanks to the surface gloss and the boys' cheerful attitude. Rascal Flatts may not be weighty, but it's not supposed to be. It's designed to be a sunny, pleasing modern country-pop album, and that's exactly what it is. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 2010 | Big Machine Records, LLC

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Country - Released August 26, 2016 | Big Machine Records, LLC

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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Big Machine Records, LLC.

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Country - Released January 1, 2004 | Lyric Street

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Country - Released January 1, 2004 | Lyric Street

Rascal Flatts are such nice guys that it's hard not to find their music rather endearing, even if it's drifting ever further toward the middle of the road. On their debut -- highlighted by their breakthrough hit single "Prayin' for Daylight," a cheerful, infectiously low-key country-pop tune that remains their best moment -- there was a hint of a looseness to their performances, a suggestion that for as tasteful as the band was, they weren't too reserved. Bit by bit, that looseness has been refined, and the group has unapologetically wound up in the middle of the road by the time of their third album, 2004's Feels Like Today. Since they always traveled close to the center, this isn't a huge change, but it is noticeable one, because the tempos don't change as much, the dynamics are muted, and the album consists almost entirely of ballads. There isn't anything as effervescent as "Prayin' for Daylight," then, nor is there anything that's truly memorable as a single, but the guys sure are likeable, even when they're singing unabashedly formulaic adult pop music that has only a hint of country to it. And that likability goes a long way, making Feels Like Today a good, relaxing listen, even if it's a shade closer to background music than it needs to be. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released September 28, 2018 | Big Machine Records, LLC

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Country - Released October 21, 2016 | Big Machine Records, LLC

Booklet
If ever there was an idea candidate for a Christmas album, it'd be Rascal Flatts, the sweet and slyly savvy country-pop group who have stayed at the top of the country charts since their debut in 2000. Soft and gentle yet possessing an ear for shifting trends -- witness the R&B undertones on their 2014 album Rewind -- Rascal Flatts offer comfort food with a dash of modern flair. Time can sometimes make that flair dated, but on The Greatest Gift of All, it means that some seasonal warhorses now sound fresh: "Joy to the World" gets a bit of splashy show biz gospel, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" receives a funky underpinning, and "Let It Snow!" and "Deck the Hall" simmer to a slow-burning R&B groove. Elsewhere, things are a little more expected: they dig out "A Strange Way to Save the World," a CCM Christmas tune by 4Him, "Silent Night" is treated with gravity and enhanced by a children's choir, while "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is given a still, solemn reading. Such a blend of the secular and the sacred, the new and the old, is a signature for Rascal Flatts, and it works well here, on a holiday album that delivers precisely what fans would expect. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 2009 | Lyric Street Records

Here comes the hubris. Rascal Flatts managed to keep it at bay through most of the 2000s, even as they turned into the biggest act in country music, but with their sixth album, Unstoppable, they succumb, trading their "aw shucks" persona for a title that Michael Jackson somehow missed in his King of Pop phase and acting like superstars, not boys next door made good. That humble streak always kept Rascal Flatts relatable, even when they went multi-platinum and drifted into colorless country-pop, and without it the group sounds a little bloated. Of course, it doesn't help that almost nothing about Unstoppable is modest, not the sounds, not the sentiments -- only the songs, which can't withstand these muscle-bound arrangements, whether they're sports-bar party anthems like "Summer Nights," glistening, tightly wound crossover pop like "Close" and its breezy counterpart "She'd Be California," or arena ballads like the first single, "Here Comes Goodbye." Despite a lot of driving, sequenced rhythms, most of the record feels as if it belongs to the latter category, thanks to how every track comes across as waves of gleaming sound, topped by the group's harmonies but with no strong supporting structure. This overwhelming smoothness would be pleasant if the album weren't so puffed up, if Rascal Flatts weren't so certain of their own invincibility that they didn't realize they didn't have either the tunes or the charm this time around...and that they didn't realize that pride comes before a fall. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released March 15, 2019 | Big Machine Records, LLC

Country - Released October 20, 2016 | Big Machine Records, LLC

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Country - Released January 1, 2011 | Buena Vista Records

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Country - Released January 1, 2009 | Lyric Street Records

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Country - Released February 16, 2018 | Big Machine Records, LLC

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Country - Released February 16, 2018 | Big Machine Records, LLC