Me and My Gang

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**1/2

The songs on Rascal Flatts' fourth album are new, but much of the subject matter seems awfully familiar. "My Wish" enumerates a parent's hopes for a child à la Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance." "Me and My Gang" is a rowdy travelogue like Big & Rich's "Comin' to Your City." "Ellsworth" addresses Alzheimer's disease like Tim Rushlow's "She Misses Him" (and even more like Elvis Costello's 1989 pop hit "Veronica"). "Backwards" drags out the oldest joke in the book, the one about how if you play a country song backwards, you get your wife, dog and house back. "He Ain't the Leavin' Kind" bemoans the separation of church and state, apparently now a requirement for mainstream country albums (see recent releases by Toby Keith, Chris Cagle and Diamond Rio, among others).

Not everything on Me and My Gang seems quite so musty. With its swooning melody, the No. 1 "What Hurts the Most" is one of the Flatts' finest slices of pop-country melodrama. "Yes I Do" dares to inject reggae into the mix, with pleasantly lilting results. But for the most part, we've seen this Gang before.

— Chris Neal

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