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The Vast Majority Of Reviewers Criminally Undervalue Dan + Shay’s Self-Titled Triumph

camjameson
Written by camjameson
/ 8 mins read

I’m not sure if it’s a sign of my musical interests widening as I progress in age or if I’m simply less-critical of mainstream music now that I’m an adult with no underground Punk values to uphold, but I’ve become a genuine fan of many modern Pop music productions, particularly of the Country Pop variety; Sure, acts like Florida Georgia Line & Little Big Town still make me cringe with how utterly lifeless they can be in comparison to their Traditional Country counterparts, but there’re a hefty handful of contemporary artists who’re passionately invested in maintaining the integrity of Country music as a whole whilst satisfying the trends of the current Pop industry, seamlessly weaving the two seemingly-disparate genres into a wonderfully vibrant tapestry of sound all manner of listeners can enjoy, even a judgmental Metalhead such as myself – The latest popular act to change my overly-negative perspective on Country music is the surprisingly talented duo Dan + Shay with their Self-Titled album Dan + Shay, delivering what is far & away the best marriage of Pop music ideologies & Country airplay flavours I’ve seen in years, even besting the more refined material of seasoned legends like Keith Urban & everyone’s favourite beach-bum Tim McGraw, filling me with delight whenever their music comes on even though I won’t necessarily admit it to my Punkish friends. When I first discovered this solid collection of foot-tapping tunes back in the summer of 2018, I’d assumed everyone was as on-board with me in appreciating the technical prowess & compositional skill at play herein, but to my surprise reputable outlets like Rolling Stone Magazine & Allmusic still gave it a paltry 3 out of 5 stars rating despite giving glowing reviews of the songs inside – Was I hearing something others just didn’t get? Was I giving Dan + Shay too much credit just for being slightly different to their more formulaic counterparts? I was certain I wasn’t just making things up, as I’ve had a lifelong education in musical theory & will easily trash anything that’s not of the utmost quality, whether in sonic fidelity or originality, so I figured I’d get to the bottom of this in a Narrative today.

Introducing Rhythmic Levity For Positivity

Kicking things off with a bang, my initial interest in Dan + Shay’s new album Dan + Shay sparked with the absolutely delightful song “Alone Together,” a tune that mixes the side-mouthed twang & wholesome sensibilities of your average Country Pop arrangement with a spritely energy that leaves you beaming with happiness from start to finish, its clever utilization of Indie Dance rhythmic techniques & complicated instrumentation producing an overwhelmingly upbeat song you can’t help but love. The duo are known for their stunning ability to create high-soaring harmonies with intricate melodic patterns & admittedly impressive vocal clarity, something that’s in full-force here as they express their romantic interests in resplendently positive fashion, but it’s actually the combination of these vocal stylings & the underlying instrumentation that makes the track itself so engaging – You get lively, endearingly-plucky guitar riffs that play in frenetic fashion, percussion sequences which take advantage of the entire kit & a vast array of layered auxiliary instruments that hearken to the sonically-busy compositions of Traditional Country music, feeling as if a group of ten or more musicians are clicking with each-other on an intimate level that conveys the passion & drive they have for the song itself; What’s more, the energetic momentum of the song is expressed wonderfully in the accompanying music video, with the popular trend of sketching animatics on-screen adding a touch of visual pizazz & expressivity to an already charming production, making for a piece of media that satisfies your pleasure centers whether you’re a fan of Country music or not – Keeping this thematic system going, songs like “All To Myself” dive even deeper into the more radiant warmth of contemporary Country airplay, pumping up the major-key chord progressions to their most joyful limits whilst injecting even more danceable vigor into the ordeal, giving listeners a loving soundscape through which to express their innermost romantic intentions – Maybe it’s just the sad-sap Emo kid in me, but I find this to be an exciting reinvention of the mainstream Country Pop aesthetic that feels far more earnest than the usual radio fare.

Borrowing From R&B Music Without Bastardizing Its Core Concepts

One of the most offensive practices in modern Country Pop music is the unabashed adoption of R&B techniques to appeal to today’s more Alternative R&B-leaning audiences with neglect to the actual compositional value of these sonic profiles, shamelessly inserting Trap-like percussion rhythms or even African American slang for little more than stylistic homogenization, failing to implement such tactics in a respectful manner. Thankfully, Dan + Shay show they’ve got a deep love for R&B music in songs like the Country ballad “Speechless,” opting to borrow the Motown & Blues-influenced songwriting techniques of the larger genre in a surprisingly-effective manner, keeping the instrumentation simple with a soulful Blues progression that carries the full weight of the song’s marriage-concerned narrative – To elaborate, the guitars keep themselves restrained as more of a rhythmic-accentuation tool than a main feature of the song, with the supplementary piano lines providing much of the emotional melodicism that support the lyrics, what with its slightly-improvisational movement aligning with the vamping techniques of blues music & its open-ended playstyle providing the emotional resonance the song needs to truly prosper, leaving the rest of the instrumentation to merely hold a basic rhythm so you can hold your partner close & slow-dance to the mood created within. Other songs such as “What Keeps You Up At Night” enact a similar aesthetic, though it showcases more of the trappings you’d expect of classic Country music with the delicate crooning of Blues guitars & more grandiose Gospel-esque choral harmonies present, resulting in a mix that’s as heartfelt & intimate as it is technically-skillful, the duo & their supporting bandmembers again conveying just how involved they all are in the songwriting process rather than just pumping out formulaic tunes any amateur could compose.

Designing Music As A Transcendent Experience

As impressive as the vast majority of Dan + Shay’s Dan + Shay may be, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge they’ve created a selection of tunes eerily similar to their contemporaries, with slight variances in their narrative structures proving to be the most influential & engaging elements of their songs; They certainly haven’t reinvented the wheel in any tangible way, but the depth of character they put on display & the absolute brilliance of their mix quality puts them a step above the competition in every way, each of their tracks possessing this subtle notion that they’ve been designed for more than just common consumption, rather they’re meant to show the breadth of imagination you can achieve with music as an artistic medium – For example, the song “Tequila” is at first glance another in a long line of over-produced love songs with symphonic elements & a rising chord progression that fulfills you as a listener, but instead of simply going through the motions with a predictable storyline & song structure, the duo weave a riveting story about heartbreak & sorrow full of intimate details which seldom repeat themselves along the course of the song, taking you on a journey through the grieving process that has a compelling beginning, middle & end over an instrumental sequence that blooms & grows in intensity over time, virtually pulling the tears from your eyes & encouraging you to think of your direction in life instead of just consuming whatever story they’re telling at face-value. It’s hard to explain effectively, especially considering the concept of a love-song is nothing new as far as Country airplay is concerned, but Dan + Shay just have a grasp on narrative progression that feels masterful & honest unlike anyone batting in their demographic, an atmosphere which instills nothing but respect within me for their body of work – Call me crazy, but Dan + Shay is one of the most pristine records to have come out in recent years, totally deserving of much higher praise than the usual music review websites have given it so far, both because of its sonic perfection & its ability to bring me one step closer to accepting Country music into my repertoire on a weekly rotation.

Dan + Shay grows up with accessible Country Pop for the masses

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 3 mins read

With their first two albums, 2014’s Where It All Began and 2016’s Obsessed, the modern duo Dan + Shay do what they want with the genre, adding Justin Bieber styles riffs and runs, modern effects and a country-ness that takes somewhat of back seat, piping in with the occasional emphasis of a banjo riff or isolated twangy drawl. Now one could say the young, hipster looking duo are more grown up contextually, from their original emphasis on young love, now concerning themselves with the superior magic of each of the songwriters’ newly minted marriages.

Butterflies for the guys on their wedding day

The self titled album explores the way in which both Dan + Shay look at the loves of their lives in a new, purer light, women whom they just tied the knots with in 2018. Many songs are clear choices for your next wedding - especially the crowd pleasing “Speechless”, which adorably relates how a groomsman feels before getting married to a soul mate; “I'm speechless / staring at you standing there in that dress / what it's doing to me ain't a secret / ‘cause watching you is all that I can do”. While the progression can be figured out, it still contains some great black key moments and one of the most R&B-like vocalizations in modern country.

A favorite slow jam keeps us all up at night

Hard to classify yet easy to fall in love with, “What Keeps You Up at Night” has a little bit of it all – bedroom jam shuffle, pretty pop notes, challenging soul singing, and colorful changes that keep us on our toes during a very sexy song. The guitar does wonders whether it is picked in a funky way on the backbeat, or soaring all electric as the track crescendos. The writing is especially clever; with odd passages connecting disparate sequences, and a rushed, erotic instrumental build up which symbolizes the ripping of clothes and the rush towards coital embrace.

Kelly Clarkson lends her chops to show us how to navigate a ‘perfect’ union

The songs title “Keeping Score” invites us not to through it’s content, citing several truths that are better to know before embarking on a life long partnership than discovering through bitterness, post damage-done. We as a people don’t know how long we have on, and the lyrics provide a powerful suggestion – to not ruin the here and now by adding up dwelling on the negatives; “and I don’t wanna ruin / this moment by wondering what comes next / I just want to love you like it’s all I’m living for / hold you close, enjoy you more / and spend a little less time keeping score.” Word to the wise, this negativity accumulates, and one day, it could be cashed in on – with accusations of who suffered more, or who didn’t pay back who emotionally. This is rustic pop delivered by Dan + Shay and Kelly Clarkson that climaxes with gorgeous hooks. Sounds like these prove love is the most powerful emotion to believe in.

The Sexiest Band In Country Music Reminds Me Of The Sexiest Memory I Can Talk About Publicly

What does this album make me think of? Him. I don’t know why I trusted him but I did. Maybe I knew given the chance, I was going to go with him wherever he was going – the feeling was mutual of course. It started instantly – we were both going home to Atlanta, we happened to be sitting next to each other on the plane, and he was single and I was looking for something else. Our knees were touching the whole time as we drank jack n cokes. When we arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson, I asked him to wait for me and we could share the uber, and I made a phone call to tell my boyfriend that the plane was delayed and I wouldn’t be coming home until sometime later. Then it got delayed again until the next morning. We were both single when we met again in March to see Dan + Shay and Morgan Evans at Coca Cola Roxy.

Written by RockGirl1  / Apr 24, 2019

    Restores My Faith In Prince Charmings

    I’m all in my feelings over here listening to Dan + Shay again, my go to for love songs. I’m the type of girl that you can’t put in a box. For instance, to look at me, you would think I’m strictly r&b, but I grew up in Kentucky and was exposed to a lot of country music. What makes Dan + Shay’s self titled album so amazing is that these dual Prince Charmings bridge the gap between country and baby making slow jams. Now if I can just find a man to share all this love with. I haven’t had a ton of success out her in LA yet, but Lord knows I’m trying. Thick girls need love too. I have yet to meet deep, romantic men like Dan + Shay, whose songs mix romance with sexiness, like “Tequila”, “Speechless”, and my jam “No Such Thing.”

    Written by CassieFord  / Apr 24, 2019

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      12. Artist Info

      About

      Dan + Shay is an American country music duo composed of vocalists and songwriters Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney. They are signed to Warner Bros. Records Nashville and have released three albums, Where It All Began, Obsessed, and Dan + Shay. These albums have accounted for a total of nine singles, of which five have topped the Country Airplay chart and two have topped the Hot Country Songs chart. In addition to their own material, the group's members have collaborated with Rascal Flatts, Lindsey Stirling, RaeLynn, and Kelly Clarkson among others.
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      Active

        2012–present

      Label

      • Warner Bros. Nashville