Rascal Flatts, "Changed" (Big Machine)
On their new album "Changed," Rascal Flatts shows how they've matured since the trio's first hits 12 years ago. Once derided as country music's answer to pop boy bands, they've endured professionally by consistently scoring radio hits and selling out arenas. With "Changed," Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney sound wiser and more grounded, balancing grown-up, light country-rockers with ballads grounded in real life.
The title song strips the band's sound down to an earthier core, displaying how rich their harmonies have become. Moreover, lead singer LeVox performs with more subtlety, focusing on expressing emotions rather than showing off ostentatious vocal pyrotechnics.
"Banjo," the album's first hit, illustrates how Rascal Flatts' sound has evolved; it has more in common with a contemporary country rocker like Jason Aldean than with anything Rascal Flatts previously has done.
In the last couple of years, the guys in Rascal Flatts have completely made over the business side of their careers, switching to a different record label, management company and more. "Changed" proves they have moved forward in the most important of ways — with their music. (A "deluxe" version of the album includes four bonus tracks).
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: "Sunrise" perfectly represents how Rascal Flatts has grown: A song about falling in love with a woman hurt by a prior relationship, it employs a catchy guitar hook, a steady upbeat rhythm and LeVox's luminous voice to suggest that any of us can change the direction of our lives, one bright morning at a time.