Rascal Flatts

Feels Like Today

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Rascal Flatts are such nice guys that it's hard not to find their music rather endearing, even if it's drifting ever further toward the middle of the road. On their debut -- highlighted by their breakthrough hit single "Prayin' for Daylight," a cheerful, infectiously low-key country-pop tune that remains their best moment -- there was a hint of a looseness to their performances, a suggestion that for as tasteful as the band was, they weren't too reserved. Bit by bit, that looseness has been refined, and the group has unapologetically wound up in the middle of the road by the time of their third album, 2004's Feels Like Today. Since they always traveled close to the center, this isn't a huge change, but it is noticeable one, because the tempos don't change as much, the dynamics are muted, and the album consists almost entirely of ballads. There isn't anything as effervescent as "Prayin' for Daylight," then, nor is there anything that's truly memorable as a single, but the guys sure are likeable, even when they're singing unabashedly formulaic adult pop music that has only a hint of country to it. And that likability goes a long way, making Feels Like Today a good, relaxing listen, even if it's a shade closer to background music than it needs to be.

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