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Rascal Flatts ()

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Rascal Flatts are three average, nice guys. They make contemporary country-pop that's nice, but ever so slightly and satisfyingly a cut above average. Nothing on their eponymous debut deviates from the norm -- it's squarely down the center of the mainstream, edging closer to pop than it does to real country -- but it's sweetly endearing and unassuming. Take the lead song and single, "Prayin' for Daylight," for example. It's almost defiantly square, but the trio doesn't ever realize that it's not hip to be square -- the very quality that makes it so much fun. They revel in their warm harmonies, bright production, catchy mid-tempo pop tunes, and ballads of heartbreak and love that always seem happy. Rascal Flatts never really changes their approach at any point during the album -- many of the zippier songs sound a lot like "Prayin' for Daylight" and the slower numbers are just slower variations of that tune -- but that doesn't matter, since this is an amiable, well-crafted, professional record. Are there some slow moments? Well, yes, but they pass by easily, thanks to the surface gloss and the boys' cheerful attitude. Rascal Flatts may not be weighty, but it's not supposed to be. It's designed to be a sunny, pleasing modern country-pop album, and that's exactly what it is. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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