Rascal Flatts will celebrate the holiday season in style with a brand new Christmas album, titled "The Greatest Gift of All." The 10-track release will be available on Oct. 21 and includes familiar holiday classics with a unique spin from the country trio.
During a recent media trip to their "Rhythms & Roots" tour stop in Indianapolis, Ind., Rascal Flatts shared the origins of the album and how the idea to cover some of the songs on the release came about. As Jay DeMarcus explains, the trio wanted to put their own spin on some of their favorite holiday songs. This especially comes across on the unique arrangement heard on “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”
“We have a history of being funky and also being soulful,” DeMarcus shares. “Gary sings a song and his R&B influences come out of him, so we want to cater to that as much as possible. We wanted to have some fun with that and make a great track and make it a fun track and make it a funky track.”
DeMarcus arranged “Go Tell It on the Mountain” with frequent collaborator Tim Akers, and he recalls Akers stumbling on a fun groove that helped launch the song. “It’s just our spin on an old classic, that’s what we wanted the theme of the record to be,” he adds.
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Another holiday classic, “Silent Night,” features Rascal Flatts’ children. The idea to include their kids singing came from Gary LeVox, and his 16-year-old daughter, Brittany, sings lead on the song.
“Brittany is a wonderful singer. She’s the one singing the lead on it and then ours are the ones scared to death behind her barely opening their mouths,” DeMarcus recalls with a laugh. “She’s got a lot of her daddy in her. That’s gonna be fun to listen to years from now and have it forever.”
LeVox tells Taste of Country that making the album was a feeling out process as the trio tried to figure out how to rearrange each song without disturbing them, given that the original recordings were masterpieces.
“It took us somewhere else that we didn’t even know we could take something,” he says. “It’s hard to redo something that’s been done over and over again but we set out to do that and I think we accomplished it.”
Joe Don Rooney tells us that the most unique track to him on the record is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” DeMarcus returned to his alma mater of Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. and brought the choir there into the studio to sing on the song. Rooney says the song is “very powerful” and describes it as a haunting throwback ’50s track.
“It’s so wonderful. It made me tear up when I listened to it,” he adds.
The band recorded the album over the summer in Nashville, and in order to get into the holiday spirit, they decorated the studio with Christmas lights, while their drummer wore a Santa hat and another musician brought in several Elf on the Shelf dolls.
Additional highlights on Rascal Flatts’ "The Greatest Gift of All" include a cover of Christian group 4HIM’s “A Strange Way to Save the World” — which DeMarcus credits as one of his favorite Christmas songs — and Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas.”
Rascal Flatts’ "The Greatest Gift of All" Track Listing:
1. “Joy to the World”
2. “O Holy Night”
3. “Deck the Halls”
4. “A Strange Way to Save the World”
5. “Go Tell It on the Mountain”
6. “Let It Snow”
7. “Silent Night”
8. “Someday at Christmas”
9. “The First Noel”
10. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”