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Album Review | COUNTRY

Rascal Flatts, ‘Changed’

If you’ve got more than a passing familiarity with contemporary country music, you’ve heard “Banjo’’ or its ilk countless times: the boilerplate banjo for tradition, the repurposed metal chords for toughness, the lyrics that play like a panderin’ checklist of country livin’. But there’s a reason people keep dipping back into the formula, and with “Changed,’’ Rascal Flatts show little inclination to mess with success. That means no sudden infusion of wit - leave that to Eric Church or Blake Shelton - just sentiment so ungussied up that, anemic mandolin and Gary LeVox’s twang notwithstanding, there’s nothing about the overpowered-by-love “Hot in Here’’ that couldn’t have served as a midtempo hit for Survivor in 1985. (“Great Big Love,’’ on the other hand, features a chorus with both musical and lyrical echoes of Todd Rundgren.) “A Little Home’’ aims for simplicity but trips over its opening lines: “Fifth floor, she’s up in her dorm / Studyin’ for her midterm.’’ The title track may be about rebirth, but on “Changed,’’ Rascal Flatts remains the same as ever. (Out Tuesday) — MARC HIRSH

ESSENTIAL “Great Big Love’’

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