Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney aka Dan + Shay have emerged as one of the most promising new duos in country music over the past couple of years. The duo met in 2012 and started writing together which quickly led to a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music. Their debut single 19 You + Me was covered by actor Colton Haynes and musician Travis Atreo, bringing international attention to the duo. In the US 19 You + Me landed inside the Top 10 on the Country Charts and was certified platinum. Following its success, Dan + Shay released their debut album Where It All Began in April 2014. Nearly two years later, the album is finally arriving here in the UK.
Anyone who has heard the three singles released from Where It All Began – 19 You + Me, Show You Off, Nothin’ Like You – will know that Dan + Shay have an ear for a catchy melody. In a similar vein to Sam Hunt and Florida Georgia Line, the duo fuse their country sounds with R&B and hip-hop melodies. They specialise in tight harmonies and strong melodies borrowing an R&B style delivery for much of their verses. Opening track Show You Off is a good example as the two sing together over the punchy verse before opening the song up for a powerful chorus.
Shay, who takes on all the lead vocals on the album, has a really versatile and powerful voice. He packs impressive power and can riff up and down a melody with the best of them. It’s his vocal delivery that makes a lot of these songs so memorable and it shines brightly on ballad First Time Feeling. Another highlight is the beautiful piano ballad I Heard Goodbye, which shows another side to both Shay’s vocal ability and the group’s music.
Stand out tracks on the album include the fantastic 19 You + Me (one of the catchiest songs in recent memory), the soaring What You Do To Me which features some really great vocal delivery moments, and current single Nothin’ Like You that boasts a melody so damn catchy it’s impossible not to sing along. When the boys trip it back for Can’t Say No, which brings to mind Extreme’s More Than Words, they really shine and I’d like to hear more acoustic tracks from them in the future.
Where It All Began is a solid debut effort from Dan + Shay. The album is such an enjoyable listen and whizzes along at a fairly breakneck speed. If I had one criticism of the album it’s that it can get a little samey in places. Dan + Shay have clearly found a style that works for them, and it works well, but I’d like to see the boys take more chances and explore a little more variety on their upcoming second album. That criticism aside, Where It All Began is a promising start for the very talented duo.
Watch the music video for 19 You + Me below
Track listing: 1. Show You Off 2. Stop Drop + Roll 3. 19 You + Me 4. What You Do To Me 5. Can’t Say No 6. First Time Feeling 7. Nothin’ Like You 8. Somewhere Only We Know 9. Parking Brake 10. I Heard Goodbye 11. Party Girl 12. Close Your Eyes Record Company: Rhino Release Date: 5th February 2016