By Annie Reuter
Rascal Flatts’ 10th studio album Back to Us, out May 19, has the band returning to its roots. Now 17 years together as a band, the country trio is well aware of what works for them and Back to Us shines the spotlight on frontman Gary LeVox’s pristine vocals, guitarist Joe Don Rooney’s stellar musicianship, and Jay DeMarcus’ production ability.
While DeMarcus took the production reigns on the project, Rascal Flatts’ touring band also joined the trio in the studio for a seamless sound fans know and love. Additionally, Rascal Flatts co-wrote several songs on the release as well as cut songs by the likes of Chris Stapleton (“Vandalized”), Josh Thompson (“Back to Us”) and Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay (“Hopin’ You Were Lookin'” and “Love What You’re Done With the Place”). Lauren Alaina also provides powerful guest vocals on “Are You Happy Now.”
Meanwhile, the group’s infectious lead single “Yours If You Want It” was written by respected Nashville songwriters Jonathan Singleton and the late Andrew Dorff.
“There are certain songs we hear and we’re like, yup, let’s cut that tomorrow,” DeMarcus says. “It made it even more special to have Andrew’s blessing,” adds LeVox.
“If a song comes in, and it beats one we have written, we are the first to say, ‘let’s cut it,'” DeMarcus admits. “We don’t really care what the critics have to say. When we make our music, we make music for the fans. And they can see and feel that.”
DeMarcus and Howard Benson acted as producers on the project and the result has the band pushing their music to innovative places while continuing to capture the Rascal Flatts’ sound fans have long loved. It was the leadership of Big Machine Records President/CEO Scott Borchetta that also pushed the guys in the right direction for their 10th studio project.
“He said, ‘I think the magic pill is the three of you guys,’” DeMarcus says. “And he was right. We don’t have anything to prove anymore.”
What first brought the trio together in 1999 was their vocal blend and it is exactly this quality that is heard throughout Back to Us.
“It’s all positive energy,” Rooney says of the album. “More than ever, we feel so alive. Taking some chances here and there and learning some lessons, and allowing ourselves to let go of the weaknesses and hone in on our strengths, including Gary’s vocals and our musicianship. Jay’s producing chops have gotten amazing. It makes us proud. We’ve been saying that it’s taken us 17 years to make this album.”
Longtime fans of Rascal Flatts will hear these strengths throughout Back to Us. The project drops on May 19.