Dan + Shay found themselves at a major crossroads before making the music that would become their new album, Bigger Houses.
Frustrated, burned out and exhausted by the hamster wheel of always chasing new career milestones and higher highs, the duo almost broke up — an experience they detailed earlier this summer, pinpointing the moment that they came back together and rediscovered their love of writing and making music together.
Since fans had that context before hearing any of Dan + Shay’s new musical chapter, it wasn’t a big surprise that their newly-learned lessons feature into their songs. The title track of Bigger Houses underscores that it’s more important to have good people in your life than it is to chase money or fame.
No surprise there: The band’s current era is one of gratitude and love for each other, and of placing a higher premium on their bond than they do on their career accolades.
And it also tracks that the duo has prioritized musical growth. “We Should Get Married” is the duo’s answer to the common thought that they’re exclusively balladeers, delivering a jumpy, uptempo track that’s probably their bounciest to date. The song also brings some Shania Twain-esque playfulness and a ’90s country vibe that you’ll also hear in the fiddle solo of “Always Gonna Be.”
For a duo that’s known best as a pop-country act, that element of traditionalism might be the biggest surprise.
But although Dan + Shay’s new album is a fresh start, it’s not a reinvention. They’re still focused on the stellar vocal harmonies that translate just as seamlessly into heartbreak (on “Save Me the Trouble” and “Heartbreak on the Map”) as they do into wedding-ready love songs (on “For the Both of Us”). Their vocals are still every bit as sharp and polished as ever; their sound is still as confident as it has ever been. They’re still the balladeers fans know and love — and they’re also honky-tonkin’ heroes.
In other words, Dan + Shay haven’t lost any of the musical characteristics that define the band, but they’ve added some. They’re still themselves on Bigger Houses. They’re just — well, bigger.