Rascal Flatts
Feels Like Today


5.0
classic

Review

by Shamus248 USER (90 Reviews)
December 31st, 2021 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "I'll find my way out of this longest drought."

Where to begin with this f***ing year?

Societal and political tensions reached a new fever pitch for the umpteenth year in a row. One senile segregationist handed over the nuclear codes to another senile segregationist. Daughtry started making music again. And Maroon 5 once again decided to pass on entering a stylistic renaissance, causing large swaths of the Sputnik faithful to stroke each other over how great Songs About Jane was. Is it sad that that was one of my high points this year? I think the only growth I experienced this year was being able to attend weekly open mic nights at a local bar, which allowed me to sing in front of an audience and be around other musicians. Music has always been my healing. And I've sure as f*ck needed it as I've endured this past year. With the pandemic and so much else going on, I think we've all experienced loss this year. And I think it offers us a kind of perspective that, while necessary, wasn't in our plans. We didn't ask for it and it's God damn uncomfortable. I guess I'm glad I don't want to go back to a time before all my bubbles got popped. Should help me avoid making the same mistakes again. But I would know about mistakes; I'm about to give another serving of verbal fellatio to a country boy band while a bunch of narcs who are still convinced Science Fiction is some kind of deep allegory about depression tell me what's what. So here we go.

Rascal Flatts broke up this year. Yes, I know. Good riddance. The band that used sterling pop harmonies to catapult one of modern country music's biggest peaks is now gone. Their break up was a long time coming. They had originally announced that they'd be disbanding upon the completion of a farewell tour that ultimately got cancelled because of the pathogen that broke out of the lab that was funded by Dr. Fau.....excuse me, I have someone at the door. Be right back.

six months later

I wish to retract my previous statement. I'm aware of how dangerous my words can be. I implore you to remain calm. The government is here to help.

Of course, them being my favorite band, their breakup hit me hard. I hold out a small sliver of hope they're reunite one day, because I badly need to be in the same room with all three of them, and tell them how much their music meant to me. I'm equal parts sad and angry that this was taken away from me. That didn't stop me from taking a stroll down memory lane, and that's where 2004's Feels Like Today, their third studio album, comes in. This was the first of four straight Flatts albums to top the Billboard 200 upon release, and it contains renowned white people wedding staple "Bless the Broken Road." This album's place in the Flatts canon is no accident. It's their last album to feature any neotraditional country compositions in a meaningful way. It has some pop gloss to it, but it's a different beast than some of the adult contemporary-adjacent projects the group would deploy in later years.

"Where You Are" opens the album with a helping of vintage Flatts. It's another story of love on fire only these guys can weave. The group relies on vibrant imagery to bring the narrative to life ("You're a waterfall washing over me. I'm a thirsty man, let me drink you in./When I reach for you, your love lifts me up"). "Bless the Broken Road" is genuinely a supreme statement of true love conquering all. Criminally cliched, but the band sells it. Gary LeVox not only expresses thankfulness to his lover, but also for the hardships he had to endure to get here, because she makes it all worth it. "Then I Did" is one of my favorite Flatts cuts of all time. Here, Gary reconnects with an old friend who had previously encouraged him to not pass up opportunities when they arose. "You talked me out of giving up on myself so many times," he gratefully proclaims. That line has particularly meant a lot to me, as it honestly encapsulates my own relationship with the band's music.

The title track "Feels Like Today" might be the Flatts' finest moment on record (not counting the prog rock epic that is "Life is a Highway"). Gary sings of entering a new phase of his life, with a new drive and purpose to boot. He knows it's been a bumpy road, but he's fully confident that better days are coming. "Soon, this dam will break," he optimistically predicts. Joe Don Rooney's guitar swells on the bridge and the band's backing harmonies make the track a full out event. It's songs like these that make the group's music so enduring. They can crank out wish fulfillment love stories for the top 40 in a heartbeat. But the staying power is found in these viscerally impactful themes of taking on the world with a clenched fist. For someone like me who grows more pessimistic with age, these words couldn't be more meaningful.

"Fast Cars and Freedom" is probably one of the least important cuts on the album, but it's still a God damn ton of fun. I guess it's about a relationship ("Staring at you taking off your makeup, wondering why you even put it on"), though I've never micro-analyzed the lyrics too much. Stylistically, the band is flexing; the energy is ramped up as all hell, but they're not even trying. "When the Sand Runs Out" continues to crystallize the album's broader themes. Gary sings of visiting a deceased friend and feeling instantly inspired to improve his life, with one of the most inspiring choruses the band has ever produced. "I'm gonna stop looking back and start moving on," they emphatically promise the listener. Maybe a tad simplistic in its construction, but not in its presentation.

"Here's to You" is an ode to the group's fans. It largely deviates from the thematic thread we've established; in the same vein as "Fast Cars and Freedom", it does disrupt the album's ebb and flow to the extent that it's lyrically alien to most of what we've tackled thus far, though I can't fault the group for wanting to take the time to celebrate how far they'd gotten up to this point. "The Day Before You" returns to the overtly romanticist keynotes of "Bless the Broken Road." Here, Gary again thanks his woman for helping him usher in a bright new chapter in his life ("The day before you was the last day that I ever lived alone"). "Holes" sees Gary longing to get someone back. Doesn't explicitly say who, but one thing's for certain; he knows he messed up and wants to correct course ("I poured drink after drink, but nothing hit bottom. I've been on my knees, admitted my problems"). Rooney and bassist Jay DeMarcus assist Gary with their signature harmonies to great effect here.

"Oklahoma-Texas Line" is all about its Southern influences. For the older purists out there, this is as close as the Flatts will ever come to that thickly traditional country approach, and while it's a ton of fun, it's perhaps not as memorable as some of this album's highlights. "Skin (Sarabeth)" closes the album on an absurdly touching note. This cut tells the story of Sarabeth, a young girl who anxiously awaits a cancer diagnosis in the waiting room ("She hasn't been well since the day that she fell, and the bruise just won't go away"). What scares her the most is the fear that she will lose her hair and the boy she likes won't like her back ("It would be a mistake for someone to take a girl with no hair to the prom"). But, when prom night rolls around, he shows up and reveals he's shaved his own hair as a show of solidarity, that he doesn't care about it and loves her for who she is . And "they go dancing," the story beautifully concludes. This one has always been a favorite of mine. It's honestly a nice reminder of what country music used to be.

There are a few recurring motifs here. The more energetic cuts are the most expendable in the album's overarching story, and the songs that advance it are the most gripping. As I sit here, closing the book on another chapter of my life and entering another one more anxious and uncertain than I've ever been, I'm comforted by the familiarity of my favorite band's music. It's my safe place. Where I can be myself the most. I'm not going to pretend that I'm pumped for the future; I'm not. But I guess the serial optimist in me can never be killed. I don't know what's in store. But I'm going to hope against hope that change is around the bend. Maybe it's about to come a lot sooner than I anticipate.

And, for better or worse, it feels like today.



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user ratings (35)
3.1
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Gyromania
December 31st 2021


33442 Comments


Lol

Hell. Fucking. Naw

botb
December 31st 2021


15058 Comments


Your favorite band is rascal flats??


























































Have you heard opeth

TheAntichrist
December 31st 2021


3291 Comments


fvckin' rascals

Digging: Carcass - Swansong

TheAntichrist
December 31st 2021


3291 Comments


"Oklahoma-Texas Line" is all about its Southern influences."

ya don't say

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
December 31st 2021


15252 Comments


was hoping this was the one with the 4.3 average

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
December 31st 2021


15252 Comments


(not counting the prog rock epic that is "Life is a Highway")

instant upvote

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
December 31st 2021


58346 Comments


RMR's interpolation of bless this broken road is the best shit ever

Digging: Freshman Biology - Only Thing I Want To Keep

Pikazilla
December 31st 2021


20630 Comments


rascal farts

Evok
Contributing Reviewer
January 1st 2022


8808 Comments


yee haw


fr tho the rascals are pretty aight good review

Digging: Ferrara Ensemble and Crawford Young - Figures Of Harmony: Songs Of Codex Chantilly c1390

rockarollacola
January 1st 2022


1230 Comments


Can't stand these guys.

Get Low
January 1st 2022


11774 Comments


LIFE IS A HIGHWAY

Minushuman24
January 2nd 2022


4920 Comments


Hm.

z00sh
January 2nd 2022


70 Comments


Feels like 2007

Emim
January 2nd 2022


31599 Comments


WHAT HURTS THE MOST

WAS BEING SO CLOSE

Shamus248
January 2nd 2022


537 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I have not heard of Ometh but i have heard of Blood on the Dance Floor whose acronym is painstakingly close to yours :-)

SitarHero
January 2nd 2022


13762 Comments


IF YOURE GOIN MY WAY
I WANNA RIDE YOU ALL NITE LONG

chemicalmarriage
January 4th 2022


3820 Comments


LIFE IS A HIGHWAY

sharkmsc
January 4th 2022


375 Comments


(not counting the prog rock epic that is "Life is a Highway")

instant upvote {2}

gordodustin
January 4th 2022


392 Comments


I can't quite tell if this review is satire, but I liked it lol

Shamus248
January 6th 2022


537 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

rating is serious, exposition is intended to piss off as many people as possible



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