When Dan and Shay released their self-titled album in 2018, featuring the tracks “Speechless” and “Tequila,” the Nashville based duo started their path to a career that would skyrocket them to fame, and since then the band has done an excellent job at keeping their fans engaged and their streaming numbers high, leading them to become one of the biggest bands in country music today. Due to a rift between the friends, caused by going in different directions in life and business (both men have families, while guitarist Dan Smyers admits he got more into the social media side of things, leading him to fall out of love with music,) Bigger Houses almost didn’t see the light of day. After reconnecting as friends, the duo began writing again, and Bigger Houses is their most authentic and country sounding record to date.
Recording the album with a live band, the record opens with “Breakin’ Up with a Broken Heart,” and immediately we hear the duo’s country sound, something that wasn’t as apparent on past releases, as Dan and Shay tend to have a huge pop sound that dominates. As usual, listeners familiar with Shay Mooney’s vocal delivery will continue to be set in their opinion that his voice is one of the best in country music today. Always flawless, he pulls us into the music and allows anyone listening to focus on the album from start to finish. Next up is “Save Me the Trouble,” one of the strongest tracks on the record and its lead single. As Shay sings earnestly about avoiding heartbreak, “Save Me the Trouble,” will quickly become a classic country hit and a regular staple on the group’s set list.
“Then Again,” appears halfway through Bigger Houses, and as we hear Shay reminiscing about an earlier time in life and being thankful for all he has now, it’s the perfect Dan and Shay ballad. While country music has changed considerably over the last few decades, “Then Again,” brings to the forefront what is still great about the genre, which is the ability to tell a great story. While everyone has things they want to change in life, “Then Again,” describes this in such a way that the song is relatable to everyone.
“We Should Get Married,” starts the wrap up of Bigger Houses, and it’s the party ditty that we were hoping Dan and Shay would include, as this LP is made up of more contemplative tunes. Talking about getting married in Vegas in a little chapel with an Elvis impersonator, and a pink Cadillac, the song is a light and fun addition to Bigger Houses. Going heavy on the country guitar sound, this is the track where the entire band shines, and illustrates that pure country music still has relevance, despite its more recent pop leanings.
Closing with the record’s title track, Dan and Shay have done it again. After hearing the opening notes of this closing song, it’s a good thing that Dan and Shay repaired their rift, as Bigger Houses had the songs that brought them back together.