Rascal Flatts' fifth studio album, "Still Feels Good," arrives Sept. 25 via Lyric Street, and there's no doubt the date is circled on many music industry calendars. After all, its predecessor, "Me and
Rascal Flatts' fifth studio album, "Still Feels Good," arrives Sept. 25 via Lyric Street, and there's no doubt the date is circled on many music industry calendars. After all, its predecessor, "Me and My Gang," scored the biggest first-week sales tally of 2006 when it moved 722,000 copies that April. Only four country acts have had bigger first weeks: Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks (twice), Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks.
Rascal Flatts is also one of the biggest success stories of the new century. The band has seven No. 1s and 17 top 10s on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, including the current "Take Me There," which is No. 7 this week.
But the retail landscape has changed since the band's last release, and no act has had a sales week as big since. That fact is not lost on the band's Jay DeMarcus. "I'm a realist," he says. "I know that at some point there's got to be a ceiling somewhere. I remember thinking while we were all toasting each other for the last record, 'You know, this might be the last time anybody sells this many units out of the box, because of the digital world and the new world that we live in and how the Internet has affected record sales.'"
But if "Still Feels Good" doesn't perform as well as past records, it won't be for a lack of focus and effort. Unlike previous albums, the band and producer Dann Huff dedicated a substantial amount of time to the new project.
"We didn't want to reinvent the wheel, because if something's not broken we didn't feel the need to fix it," DeMarcus says. "But particularly when it comes to songs that the three of us write, we write whatever's in our heart at that moment. We've got a bluegrass tune that we've written for a bonus cut that is definitely different than anything we've done."
Among the notable new tunes are "Winner At a Losing Game," which conjures '70s country rock, and "She Goes All," which features actor/singer Jamie Foxx. Elsewhere, "Bob That Head" is a country-meets-rock-meets-rap tune, while Rascal Flatts turns tender on "Better Now," "Help Me Remember" and "It's Not Supposed To Go Like That."
Overseeing the process was producer Huff (Faith Hill, Keith Urban), who worked with the trio on "Me and My Gang." "I went to see them play live several times," Huff says. "I said to myself, 'This is country music that is really arena-worthy,' and we kind of took it to that level on the last record."
For more on Rascal Flatts and "Still Feels Good," see the Aug. 25 issue of Billboard, on newsstands and online at Billboard.biz today.