Single Review: Rascal Flatts, “Rewind”

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January 22, 2014

Rascal Flatts RewindUsing the word rewind in 2014 is a bit dated and quaint, don’t you think?

But it’s better than “re-fall” and “re-fly”, the uses of which nearly derail in the bridge what has been a satisfactory journey so far.  The concept might be old school, but the Rascal Flatts boys are still very much in the present, turning in a nice variation on their trademark harmonies that allow Gary LeVox to let loose a little bit.  He’s not as nasal as he’s been in the past, and when he goes for the power vocals toward the end, he sounds a lot more raw than I can ever remember hearing him.

There’s something slightly melancholy about Rascal Flatts these days.  A major commercial act that was never known for its artistry has begun to fade.  Their relevance is on shaky ground, almost sadly dependent on the whims of radio and consumer interests.  I don’t know why their sound slowly went out of style, any more than I can tell you why they were moving four million units an album at their peak.

But against today’s landscape, there’s something comforting about the way that they’re still doing things.   They may not be at the top of the game, but at least they’re still playing.

Written by Chris DeStefano, Ashley Gorley, and Eric Paslay

Grade: B-

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  1. Noah EatonNo Gravatar says:

    Having never been a Rascal Flatts fan……….I’ll say this.

    I hold a great deal of respect for this group for not succumbing to most industry trends, particularly the “frat-boy country” one.

    Yes, they’ve released some painfully awkward to sometimes atrocious one-off singles here and there like “Me And My Gang”, “Bob That Head” and “Summer Nights”………but even there, I never got the feel that they were ever interested in chasing trends or succumbing to peer pressure because each of those aforementioned releases were outliers on otherwise painfully predictable and mediocre middle-of-the-road, chicken-fried Adult Contemporary fare.

    And, I’ll admit this too. You can tell LeVox, in particular, became self-aware of how overbearing and bombastic his voice can be, and has actually taken genuine steps to strive for a more nuanced vocal since they released “Nothing Like This”. Hopefully, now that they’ve ditched Dan Huff (finally!!!) they can follow suit musically and skimp on the needless histrionics.

    Between their middle-of-the-road predictability and, say, the lunkheaded shenanigans of Florida Georgia Line, the banality of Lady Antebellum and the anonymous schmaltz of Dan + Shay, Rascal Flatts appear better than ever in comparison. I’d much rather they stick around compared to any of those three. (That is, until Lady Antebellum decide to actually get interesting again).

  2. Noah EatonNo Gravatar says:

    As far as the grade is concerned, I’d say B- is about right to my ears too.

    There’s no way I can rate it any higher because it does sound fleeting and lacks the qualities that separate somewhat more memorable tracks from forgettable ones. But, in the meantime, they get their tried-and-true formula done right, without the excess of histrionics, and they sound all the more appeasing in result.

  3. Matt B.No Gravatar says:

    That’s roughly where I rated the single too. They even didn’t use Dann Huff on this. Which I think they needed to break away from. I’ll also say that Gary Levox is so much better w/o the melisma.

  4. TomNo Gravatar says:

    …rascal flatts remaining rascal flatts should earn them points on the score board? are we slowly getting old around here?

    there’s not one thing really pleasant about this song. it could be on any of their albums – how great does that make it.

    this is rubbish gary levox is trying hard to make sound like music of some kind. definitely not remotely country, however.

  5. Noah EatonNo Gravatar says:

    Tom, I’ll say this.

    If it weren’t for LeVox’s histrionic vocals to the point of hilarity, Huff’s obsession with regurgitating Air Supply theatrics with his production of their music and their overall vanilla song selections, I probably would have liked Rascal Flatts significantly more, despite hardly sounding “country” most of the time.

    Those three aforementioned crutches are what made them mostly insufferable all throughout the Huff era. There was not a single release of theirs I really liked between “Skin (Sarabeth)” and “Why Wait”, in fact. (“Why” was alright, but not great).

    Then, following the “Unstoppable” era, that’s where I think the group finally began to turn a page. With “Nothing Like This”, they released a lead single (“Why Wait”) that actually reminded me of their first trifecta of albums that, while nothing exceptional, were enjoyable listening experiences because of all the listenable harmonies and instrumentation that at least reflected pop-country. LeVox also started to restrain himself as a vocalist, and he’s sounds all the better for that.

    It was directly followed by “Changed” which, while a step down from “Nothing Like This” as a whole due to some inferior song selections, nonetheless signalled Rascal Flatts’s continued gravitation away from Huff’s monopolizing of their discography and more nuanced performances from LeVox.

    And now, we come to “Rewind”: where Huff has since hit the road altogether and they have modernized their signature sound. Sure, they still sound vanilla, but at least it’s the kind of vanilla that goes down smoothly………and it’s not anything worth hating or outright praising.

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