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Review: Dan + Shay Kick up a Quiet Country Storm on Self-Titled LP

Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney maintain their low-key approach on ‘Dan + Shay’

dan + shay

Patrick Tracy

This country duo has quietly racked up hits like “How Not To” and “From the Ground Up” since 2014, and they’ve taken their fair share of shit along the way for daring to have a softer, less rowdy presentation than their peers. On their self-titled third album, Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney maintain their low-key approach, delighting in simple, domestic pleasures and providing a reminder to pause and take a breath. Lead single “Tequila” is a massive, sweeping country-radio smash that’s less about getting drunk than the overwhelming power of memory. Mooney also goes toe to toe with vocal powerhouse Kelly Clarkson on the live-in-the-moment anthem “Keeping Score” and emerges no worse for the wear, transcending obvious comparisons to Rascal Flatts’ Gary LeVox with a voice that is both lithe and brawny, yet steeped in contemporary vernacular. Co-producer Smyers bridges adult-contemporary pop, power balladry and modern country, dabbling in vaguely Caribbean sounds on “All to Myself” and adding record-scratching loops to “No Such Thing.” Dan + Shay are at their most collectively potent on the soulful cuts “What Keeps You Up at Night” and “Speechless,” their groove-oriented production giving Mooney plenty of space to proclaim his love in soaring fashion.

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