Warner Music Nashville
Release Date: August 13th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Good Things
- Steal My Love
- Body Language
- Give In To You
- One Direction
- Let Me Get Over Her
- Glad You Exist
- 10,000 Hours (feat. Justin Bieber)
- I Should Probably Go To Bed
In times of trouble and in times of suffering, where do we go when we need uplifting? Of course, we can turn to the Bible and to Jesus- the Author and Perfector of our faith; but there are other avenues of finding encouragement and inspiration for those of us who aren’t religious, or for those of us who would like to be inspired in other ways other than the Word. Perhaps we watch a moving and gripping TV show, an emotional movie, or an engaging interview on YouTube. Maybe we sit and talk openly and candidly with our parents or friends (on Zoom or at a safe distance!) or maybe we jam out to that one particular song that’s been on the radio forever that makes us feel good. But in my own opinion, I personally think that there’s nothing better than spinning through an album chock full of positivity and optimism, and general cheeriness and joyfulness. An album doesn’t have to be deep all the time (if every music album was musically, thematically, and lyrically like albums from John Mayer, Andrew Peterson, or Jason Gray, then wouldn’t the world be depressing, don’t you think?), and as long as there is something meaningful and worth while to be gaining out of the experience of listening to an album, and as long as the album doesn’t encourage you to be all moody and reflective for no reason at all; then I’d say any album that brings a smile to your face is a good album. And with that, let us speak about country duo Dan + Shay and their latest album Good Things.
I think there was a blessing and a curse that we had making this record. It’s been a crazy year, but the one thing we did have was time. That’s something we haven’t had [recently]. You have your whole life to make your first record, then very little time in between tours to make something that you’re super proud of, with very limited time on the road. So, this time, one thing we did have was a lot of time. It’s amazing, but it’s also a different process when you’re putting it together. You’re starting to overthink things.
We think this is our best album, by far. We had the time to think through things, but also keep ourselves at bay, not trying to overthink it. We’re super proud of this record and the whole process was really fun to be able to do this together. I feel like this record, people are going to react to it, and hopefully they’ll want us to play the songs live. We’re definitely going to be doing a lot of new songs. It’ll feel very fresh to us, as well, which is exciting!
For this site, we’ve reviewed plenty of country albums in the past. Though there’s something about Dan and Shay’s project that is so easy to listen to, in a good way. Not that it’s better than albums from Brian Kelley, Thomas Rhett, Jimmie Allen, Lady A, Carrie Underwood, Carly Pearce, or even from Chris Stapleton last year; but it is indeed something different, and that’s always something to champion. Yet some would say that both Dan and Shay are too pop and not ‘country enough’ to be considered a country artist. However even though they are walking the line between pop and country, their lyrics are still earnest, emotive, personal and honest. Their music still tugs at our souls in different way to the rousing, declaratory and anthemic country albums… so does it matter what they sound like genre-wise in the grand scheme of things? And one listen from this breezy, bubbly and laid-back project, will undoubtedly persuade you all to agree with me- that these guys are something special and their album is one that does bring a smile to our faces! Album opener and the title track dives deep into the concept of asking a friend or a partner whether they think of good things when they think of us; and is a song that speaks about our need to be validated and applauded for who we are as people. Driven by keys and having an easy-to-listen-to atmosphere, the duo earnestly sing about our want to be liked and loved; and though this song could seem endearing, the underlying message here is that we all want to be recognised. Which is a good thing, but can also sound like being needy. Maybe the double meaning to this track was what the duo were going for, but whatever the case, this melody kicks off a deep introspective look at ourselves and what makes us all tick.
The rest of Good Things is equally as moving and impactful as the album opener. “Steal My Love”, a sweet, heartfelt piano led ballad, eloquently relays that both Dan and Shay are dedicated and faithful to their wives and that no one is going to steal their love away from them (a melody that could be sung on couple’s wedding anniversaries!); while “You” is another song of devotion and of love to their spouses, with the duo passionately relaying that ‘…I got you, ooh, ooh, for the rest of my days, in the sun of Sunday morning or the pouring rain, I got you, ooh, ooh, for the rest of my life, and if all else goes wrong, baby I’ll be alright…’. Dan and Shay have been known for giving us personal, moving and emotional songs of love and devotion to their spouses before, inclusive of tracks like “From The Ground Up” and “Speechless”; and so this love letter to their wives of “You” especially is nothing new, but still endearing and enjoyable to listen to nonetheless. “Body Language”- a track co-written with Shawn Mendes- is a melody that goes against the mould of being about love and happiness, as the melody is about a heartbreaking breakup (warning us to cherish the love we have right now!), while “Give Into You” is equally as moving yet confronting, as the track delves into the persona giving into their toxic relationship and their partner even if it isn’t healthy for them in the long run. With these pair of songs being about hardship and the complexities of life, it’s clear that Dan and Shay aren’t here to just play nice and deliver nice platitudes- and for that I’m extremely happy and grateful.
“Irresponsible”, another track calling out the toxicity of some relationships and the ease at which people generally fall back into relationships because of convenience and ease instead of it being actually good for them, encourages us to check out relationships to see if we’re in them for the right reasons; while the gospel-infused “Lying”, with a piano riff from Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me”, passionately relays the fact that we sometimes lie to ourselves in order to live and survive- we say we’re over someone when we aren’t- and this track encourages us to own our feelings and our story and be honest with the most important people in our lives. “One Direction”, a shower-tempo reflective ballad, speaks about the transience of this world and that time doesn’t stop, as the duo encourage us to live life to the fullest and to cherish our time on Earth; while the lullaby-ish Rascal Flatts-inspired ballad “Let Me Get Over Her” is a prayer to God, asking Him to ‘…let me get over her, let me forget she forgot about me…’cause right now I’m begging You, I’m down on my knees…’. It’s a tragic melody about someone who is heartbroken (and I’m sure we can all relate to that at one point or another!), and longing to be rid of the pain; and it’s also a song that reminds us that heartbreak and pain are a part of life, and as much as we’d like to be rid of all of the hard and messy parts, the reality is that the hard times help shape and mould us as we grow as people.
[Glad You Exist] …It gave people a voice. A lot of times, especially with guys, you don’t have the words to say, so we kind of gave them something to say. And it was just incredible to see all the stories. We had military homecomings, we had people posting about their kids. I was scrolling through there and I would make it maybe two stories and just be a wreck. It kind of became something that was so much bigger than us. Obviously, you try to put things into motion, and you can hope they become what you hope they can be, and this song just took on a life of its own. It was a very human emotion of like, ‘Man, we’re all going through this together.’
“Glad You Exist”, an album highlight for me, was certified gold by the RIAA in July this year, and is a piano led ballad, whereby the duo relays their gratitude for their spouses, reiterating that ‘…there’s a couple billion people in the world, and a million other places we could be, but you’re here with me, take a moment just to take it in, ‘cause every high and every low led to this, I’m just so glad you exist…’. And though this is a song that can relate to a lot of different people, because it can be interpreted in a variety of different ways; the track can also be seen as a friend singing to another friend, or even parents singing to their children. There is a place for everyone in the world, and there is value despite what some people may think and believe. And it is this song that hopefully gets us out os this funk of not believing we are worthy or good enough to be loved- and in that respect, this is probably one of the most important songs these guys have written and recorded. “10 000 Hours”, with Justin Bieber, is a hit from 2 years ago, and is a song that we’ve all heard before, and a track that we can all admit is our guilty pleasure (so there’s no need to dive deeper than necessary in this already poignant and heartfelt song about commitment to your spouse/partner!); while the album closer on Good Things is “I Should Probably Go To Bed” and is our conscience or maybe God telling us not to give into temptation, reminding us that we should ‘go to bed’ whenever we feel like we’re slipping in our vices and our temptations.
We write country songs — the topline, the lyrics of these songs. We moved to town because we fell in love with country songwriting and what was happening in Nashville and Music Row. The quality and the standard here is just unbelievable. We make sure the title, the concept, the payoff is great, like all country songs are. But with the production, we pull from all different influences. We grew up listening to all kinds of music, not just country, but pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, everything… and you hear that in the music.
We write a lot about what we know, and we write about love and heartbreak and life. If we can unite people and make music that’s something people can escape to or [use] to heal, find something that they need, then that’s the most important thing for us to do as musicians.
There’s a myriad of topics being discussed within Dan + Shay’s Good Things. Generally a happy vibe, there’s a sense of melancholy on a number of songs here, however they’re recorded in a fun way that still brings a smile to our face. One nit-pick though for me is that all of the songs melodically and musically sound the same, and most are under 3 minutes. There are no upbeat rock-type songs, and there’s a sense of sameness here that makes the album seem ‘fine’ and meander along. However the album still is fun to listen to and still imparts to us wisdom about relevant topics to society. Yet for me the album would’ve been much more impacting and moving had the guy taken more risks. As it stands, Good Things is just there. Though these songs still tug at our souls, I’m sure a couple of upbeat tunes (like the title track) would’ve brightened up a tracklist that seems stale and stuck in the 90’s. Though that’s not a bad thing, because Good Things is inspiring, no doubt about it. But it could’ve been so much more.
3 songs to listen to: Good Things, One Direction, Glad You Exist
RIYL: Kane Brown, Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Maren Morris, Maddie & Tae