Album Review: Dan + Shay’s Self-Titled Album

When immersing oneself in each track on Dan + Shay’s self-titled project, it becomes clear that the duo of Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney know how to capture the story of a song not only through the power of their vocals, but in their ability to create meaningful lyrics that make their work feel like poetry.

The booming drums and swanky beat of the opening “Alone Together” is proof of how the duo has stretched their boundaries as artists in a way that casts them in a refreshing light, expanding their imaginations as much as their musical influences. Their ability to create vivid imagery with their words pours through on the romantic “What Keeps You Up at Night” that beautifully blends R&B, country and soul with its evocative lyrics. “Let me leave my shape in your bed, make you dance in the dark like you’re still in my arms,” Mooney passionately croons, conveying the type of writing that paints such a distinct picture in one’s mind that it feels like you’re falling in love right along with the characters of the song. The same can be said for the reggae-infused “All To Myself” that uses the listener’s mind as a canvas and the lyrics as the colors that bring the image to life singing, “Let our shadows paint the wall, we’ll hide away in the dark, I’m jealous of the song that you’ve been singing and the way it’s rolling off your lips.”

The duo prove that they can tell an insightful story just as captivatingly as a romantic one with the thoughtful “Keeping Score” that reinforces the important message that time is fleeting and precious, and moments with the ones we love are meant to be cherished, with Kelly Clarkson serving as the perfect duet partner who honors the song’s meaning with her stunning vocals.

Another striking element that’s evident in nearly all of the tracks is how honestly the duo speaks of love, leading one to draw the conclusion that their wives serve as inspiration for this aspect of the project. This honesty is expressed in “My Side of the Fence” that feels like a genuine love letter to the women they’ve exchanged vows with. You can see the storm and feel the calmness in the line “you’re the whisper that I hear in the thunder” and witness the joy on their faces as they pledge, “you’re the tears falling down from the laughter,” eliciting one of the most precious moments on the album.

Dan + Shay not only demonstrate how they’ve evolved musically on their self-titled record, but prove the purity that lives in their songwriting. There’s a sense of light and positivity that’s immersed in the album, and perhaps the most convincing aspect is how they evoke emotion through passionate lyrics and the striking images that accompany them. The way Smyers and Mooney are able to exude the qualities of truthfulness, sincerity and love reflects their authenticity not just as artists, but who they are as people.