April 16, 2009 — Rascal Flatts sold a whopping 351,000 copies of its new Unstoppable project in its first week, and it easily made it the No. 1 title on both the Billboard country albums chart and the all-genre Billboard 200. As a result, the band has now vaulted four consecutive studio albums to the top of the Billboard 200, more than any country act since SoundScan began tallying sales electronically in 1991.
Oddly enough, the group also has a hand in the No. 2 album. They contributed an acoustic version of "Bless The Broken Road" to Hannah Montana: The Movie, and soundtrack sales keep it in the runner-up position on the Billboard 200.
Even more odd, Unstoppable continues a behind-the-scenes progression on the country chart. In the previous two weeks, M artina McBride's Shine and Keith Urban's Defying Gravity debuted at the top of that sales list, and it means record producer Dann Huff has been responsible for three straight No. 1 country albums by three different artists in three weeks.
"I am thrilled to be associated with all of these wonderfully talented artists," Dann says. "They all push me to be a better musician and producer."
The feeling is mutual, particularly for Flatts guitarist Joe Don Rooney. Dann was a session guitar player in Los Angeles during the 1980s and '90s, and he's inspired Joe Don to think about his instrument a little differently.
"I've become a guitar player that's learned how to sing on the guitar," Joe Don explains. "A person can play on a guitar, and a person can sing on the guitar and Dann Huff can sing on a guitar. Players like that, they just have a certain touch and feel, and I've tried to learn a little more of that and get that psyche goin'. When you listen to a solo section in the studio, you know, you're like, 'OK, that's what I want to play.' Hum it to yourself first and then play it, instead of just goin' to a pattern you're used to. We all default to those all the time. So I've learned to sing the guitar more to myself in my head before I play it, and it's taught me to be more of a singer on the guitar."
Meanwhile, chart action suggests Jason Aldean's learned a thing or two as well. His new album Wide Open sold 109,000 copies to come in at No. 2 on the country album chart and No. 4 on the Billboard 200. It's the best first-week showing he's ever experienced.
"I knew that there was some excitement building for the new album because the crowds at our shows have been crawling the walls when we break into 'She's Country,'" Jason says. "I just had no idea that it would be this big. This blows my mind. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world right now."