Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney are the new kids on the block in the country music industry. After meeting at a party one night in Nashville, the two began writing music together straight away. It was clear this duo had found something special, with the first song they ever wrote together being put on hold for Rascal Flatts. Their first single, 19 You + Me, has already sold over a quarter of a million singles, and they have been named as “one of the acts that will help to define 2014”. Where It All Began is Dan + Shay’s debut album and all songs were written entirely by the duo. Can this debut live up to the success of their first hit single?
Dan + Shay experiment with the new crossover genre of country pop, taking cue from the likes of Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum. Their first four songs Show You Off, Stop Drop + Roll, 19 You + Me and What You Do To Me all embody this, with catchy hooks intertwined with country roots. Hit single 19 You +Me might seem like your typical song at first, but something about it reaches out and grabs the listener, making them want to hit repeat on this charming track. What You Do To Me is sure to be a future smash hit; whilst it’s more on the pop side of things, it’s a nice variation and the fast paced, rap like lyrics give it an edge.
The entire album is centered about the idea of innocent young love, and the lyrics of the songs scream of sweet sentimentality. Knowing that Dan and Shay wrote the songs themselves makes it all the more personal and emotional, giving their audience unrestricted access to them and their life experiences. First Time Feeling and Nothin Like You are sure to win fans over because of this, particularly of the female variety.
Highlights of Where It All Began include Can’t Say No and I Heard Goodbye. Can’t Say No is a stripped back song, featuring the boys vocals alongside guitar riffs, and it perhaps feels a little more authentic than the dynamic pop tracks. I Heard Goodbye is a heartwrenching ballad, which showcases Dan and Shay’s amazing vocals and perfect harmonies. Featuring just vocals, pianos and the occasional violin, there might not be any country motifs present but it once again demonstrates the boys variety.
However, listening to the entire album from start to finish, I felt that it all sounded a little too similar by the end. The fact that the songs are all about the same thing ties them together, but at the same time can make the audience a little bored. The melodies in many of the songs also failed to stand out from one another. Yet in doing this, Dan + Shay have created an identifiable niche for themselves.
Where It All Began features organic vocals and tracks that stray from the temptation of over production, and the catchy hooks are bound to attract legions of new fans. Whether they will help to define this year of music, I don’t know, but it’s safe to say that Dan + Shay do have a bright future ahead of them.