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Album Review: “Unstoppable” by Rascal Flatts

April 8, 2009

Unstoppable cover3 Stars

 

Rascal Flatts took home another ACM Award for Group of the Year this past Sunday and follow that up with what will, inevitably, be next week’s biggest selling country album. Unlike many other bloggers I actually tend to show preference to the modernist sounds that the Flatts boy embrace, however Unstoppable doesn’t really manage to live up to its name and falls right about middle of the road.

Rascal Flatts love their ballads and their party songs, which makes sense considering their popularity and success as an arena act. However this same formula is not a good way to approach every single album. Their Me & My Gangalbum was four stars absolutely and they lost a lot of steam with their much less enjoyable Still Feels Good. Somewhere in between those two projects lies their newest album, complete with fan made album cover. Unstoppable provides much of the power and entertainment value that made much of the trio’s early work worth the $15-$20 without question. However, in that same sense, it also provides a few of the same faults that have plagued them before as well.

One of the biggest issues that is draped over this project is it’s lack of creativity and substance in the song choice. Several tracks in this project have been done before, or at least the center concept by other artists in just the past year. The midpoint track “She’d Be California” is almost a carbon copy concept to Gary Allan’s 2008 single “She’s So California”. The trio provide their take of “All Summer Long”, Kid Rock’s country summer hit of 2008, with “Summer Nights” and even come dangerously close to Tim McGraw’s concept to his current single “Nothin’ To Dir For”, shifting a little to more powerful and personal matters for “Things That Matter”, which also covers other concepts that are all to popular right now in album cuts.

What’s left of the album after these tracks are a select group of love songs and typical ballads. The title track “Unstoppable” and “Forever” both draw way to much on the concept of love as a lasting and immortal entity and this concept continues to dominate through most of the rest of the project. Now this would not be a huge downfall if the band actually produced some more unique and attractive material to support it.

Despite all this, Rascal Flatts do provide what is essentially some of their best work in a few of the tracks offered in his album. The first single “here Comes Goodbye” is a welcomed return to the emotional intensity and effectiveness of “What Hurts The Most” while the closing track “Why” provides an intriguing look at the idea of wrongful death. Even some of the love songs do manage to stand out a bit, such as the banjo-pop Demarcus penned song “Close” and the opening track “Love Who You Love”. To that end this project is not a total loss.

What this project represents is a recovery and a new step forward for the group who’s previous album fed into the evils of popularity and overconfidence to spell disaster. While this album isn’t a disaster, it is in fact far from “unstoppable” leaving the trio barely scratching the barrier between a great project and a total mess. On one hand there is the lack of creativity that plagues both their writing and song choice, and on the other there is the fact that the remaining tracks do provide a relapse of the quality that helped make the trio a success. While this is not a perfect album in any way, it’s not a horrible one, but it will take some work and patience, and maybe some humility, to bring the Flatts boys back to their prime completely.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. gloria permalink
    April 9, 2009 1:01 pm

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again!! How does anyone listen to a whole album of Gary LeVox’s whiny, nasal voice?? Just don’t dig them at all! Same old depressing ballads!! I think all the younger fans now must be tone deaf and could care less about how the music really sounds anymore! Another for instance, Taylor Swift!

    • Eric permalink
      April 29, 2010 2:42 am

      gloria, you are soooooooo right about Gary Levox. I’m afraid we have a lot of new generations of people who are tone deaf and seem to only care about the beat and not what’s coming out of the mouth of the singers.

      Gary Levox is a horrible singer when he performs Live. In a studio they can make him sound better, but they can do that with anyone. Live performances arw what separate true artists from pretenders, and Gary Levox has always been a pretender. He simply can’t sing worth a lick when he performs Live. He’s very very pitchy all the time.

      You are also correct about Taylor Swift, but she’s basically the Hannah Montana of country and can do anything and get away with it. Mainly her songs are just childish nonsense.

  2. Country Music Fan permalink
    April 9, 2009 11:17 pm

    I like “Here Comes Goodbye”. Haven’t listened to the other songs. However, I would like to respond to gloria. I have been around country music for 60yrs and a lot of the traditonal country music is nasal. When I first heard the Flatts I thought they were bluegrass. Country music stars that have great vocals often have cross over hits. Dolly, Loretta, Tammy, LeAnne, Faith, Martina, Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood, Eddy Arnold, Conway Twitty, Marty Robbins, Carrie Underwood and so so many more. They don’t always make a record to cross over, it just is a very good vocal. Everyone loves a great vocal, even if it is country. I must agree with gloria that Taylor Swift cannot sing.

    • Anonymous permalink
      October 19, 2009 12:38 am

      i agree with you they r hot even gary he is so sweet

  3. April 10, 2009 1:39 am

    I disagree Country Music Fan, Taylor can sing…….when she has the producers to help her out.

  4. gloria permalink
    April 10, 2009 5:59 pm

    CountryMusicFan….all the people you named are the artist I like! They all sound better than Rascal Flatts to me. It even hurts me to watch Gary sing live and they are never in harmony. The other night at the ACMs was the first time they sounded half way decent to me. Gary always has the look on his face that he’s trying to pass a huge watermelon. Wonder what Simon Cowell would say to him after he sang making those faces!! I’ve heard him say things to contestants about their strange facial expressions!

  5. Chelsea permalink
    June 2, 2009 4:40 pm

    I really happen to like Rascal Flatts. Their music is inspiring and cute and I find it particularly uplifting. I actually like Gary’s voice alot.

    • Eric permalink
      April 29, 2010 2:44 am

      I understand if you like their music, but if you think Gary has a good voice then you must be tone deaf. Understand, I’m talking about when he sings Live. He sounds okay after a thousand studio takes though.

  6. October 18, 2009 10:49 pm

    ok well gloria ya know what gary is an amazing guy he is a great husband and father and he is so nice i love him sssooo much every single time i see him in concert i cry and by the way his facial expressions r so cute he gets so into the music i love the fact that hes the most dedicated guy in the world to music and his fans including me ive met him and he kissed me to show me how much he appreciated me so what now i love him and so does everyone but you because they have lifes and they know what real country is !

  7. Crystal permalink
    January 7, 2010 5:52 pm

    You guys suck…i would have to say if you really understood the concept of this album then it would be way up there on your greatness scale but you guys are just ignorrant.

    • Eric permalink
      April 29, 2010 2:47 am

      Forget the concept, just make sure Gary Levox never performs Live again. They should just lip sync their concerts. He’d sound a whole lot better.

      He embarrassed himself again tonight on American Idol.

  8. Crystal permalink
    January 7, 2010 5:53 pm

    that was for just the people who go against the album

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