CD Review: Rascal Flatts / Kenny Chesney

Rascal Flatts: Still Feels Good Lyric Street
Music ••• Sound •••
Kenny Chesney: Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates RCA
Music ••½ Sound •••

With all four of its previous CDs registered multi-Platinum and with its new album having just debuted at the top of the charts, the success of Rascal Flatts is certainly inarguable. Yet it does say something when an act this overtly pop almost just as inarguably represents the face of contemporary country music. Listening to guitar-heavy power ballads like "Every Day" and "She Goes All the Way," you're half-expecting Steve Perry to take over lead vocals from Gary LeVox and for a Journey album to suddenly break out. As it stands, it's Jamie Foxx who bizarrely turns up for the duet on "All the Way," but the point of Dann Huff's market-conscious co-production is well taken: There seems little difference between decades-old arena rock and current "mainstream" country. Except maybe hair products.

No hair concerns for Kenny Chesney, of course - not with that cowboy hat pushed down so tight as to leave all follicle issues a matter between him and his tonsorial adviser. Of more concern is an album called Just Who I Am that features a host of credibility-straining songs straight out of current-day Nashville sensibilities. Cases in point: "Never Wanted Nothing More," about a one-woman, one-God man; "Wife and Kids," about the loneliness of the unattached superstar (no truth to the rumor that this song was originally subtitled "Walk Away Renee"); and "Dancin' for the Groceries," about a single mom making ends meet - as a stripper, naturally. Demi Moore, call your lawyer.

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