“I think this record is probably to date our most country record that we’ve ever done,” Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus has said of Changed.

The trio’s eighth studio album, Changed details the ups and downs we all face in life. Recorded at DeMarcus’ home studio with stripped-down production, it has a more personal and intimate feel.

“Hot In Here,” for instance, follows a blossoming relationship from the honeymoon stage, “Come Wake Me Up” demonstrates the torture heartache can bring. With poignant vocals, spot-on harmonies and memorable lyrics it’s hard not to relate to each of the 11 tracks.

Despite the major heartbreak showcased throughout the album (“She’s Leaving,” “Let It Hurt,” “Come Wake Me Up”), the music never falters. With electrifying guitar, memorable percussion, and powerful banjo throughout, the guys in Rascal Flatts continue to showcase their influence.

Changed begins with the beautiful title track. With delicate strums of the guitar before Gary LeVox begins to sing, it’s a slow yet fitting start to the album. A surprising entrance to the album, Changed just might be Rascal Flatts’ most personal release yet.

Current single “Banjo” (which they performed on the ACM Awards with Steve Martin) follows suit with a backwoods country vibe. Aptly titled, the track features numerous banjo interludes alongside a fun bass beat.

While Changed showcases Rascal Flatts’ more sensitive side with a stripped down approach, the album does not lessen their power. With well-polished, arena-ready songs it’s easy to envision how these will translate in a live setting.

The emotionally charged “Let It Hurt” recalls previous hit “What Hurts the Most.” With soaring electric guitar next to LeVox’s powerful vocals, it’s hard not to feel the heartache. “You might just find you’re better for it/ When you let go and you learn/ To let it hurt, let it bleed/ Let it take you right down to your knees,” LeVox sings.

Meanwhile, “Sunshine” channels a happier sentiment: falling in love. Written by Joe Don Rooney and Nathan Chapman, the song oozes with passion.

The energetic “Great Big Love” reminds us “don’t sweat the small stuff.” A sentiment everyone can relate to, the feel good number electrifies with upbeat music and soulful vocals. Closing with the personal “A Little Home,” the track continues to showcase the band’s prowess.

Overall, Changed offers fans the familiar Rascal Flatts sound with slightly more of a country tilt. While they haven’t broken new ground, the album exemplifies just why they are one of country music’s most beloved groups.

rascal flatts1 Rascal Flatts Release New Album, Changed [Review]

Rascal Flatts Changed Track List
1. Changed
2. Banjo
3. Hot In Here
4. Come Wake Me Up
5. She’s Leaving
6. Let It Hurt
7. Lovin’ Me
8. Hurry Baby
9. Sunrise
10. Great Big Love
11. A Little Home

Pick up your copy of Rascal Flatts Changed beginning Tuesday, April 3 at iTunes and Amazon.

– Annie Reuter, CBS Local

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