Photo: Robby Klein

Dan + Shay

The powerhouse pop-country duo celebrate a new lease on life and music with new album 'Bigger Houses'

Few modern country acts have had the opportunity to weave in and out of the mainstream pop space the way Dan + Shay have, almost since their inception. Their biggest hits, including “10,000 Hours” with Justin Bieber, “Tequila” and “Speechless” could very well be considered modern classics in country but pop as well, and even more “modest” hits like “Glad You Exist” and “All To Myself” were/are inescapable radio/playlist fodder amongst both genres.

Their newest album, Bigger Houses, is out tomorrow, 9/14. The project is an emotional and spiritual reset for the duo, who almost fell apart for good after their headline arena tour in 2021. But it also feels like a victory lap. They didn’t reinvent the wheel, they simply returned to what brought them to the dance.

“Why don’t you save me the trouble?”

Lead single “Save Me The Trouble,” which came from a no-stakes session at the tail end of the album-making process, set the tone for the record. The build to its massive crescendo begins the second the song begins, climbing higher and higher till the sudden drop at the very end: “I can tell by the way that you’re stirring your drink / Yeah, we’re already playing with fire / Said that you had to go bout an hour ago / Baby, you’re such a beautiful liar.” It is a modern-day mainstream arena-rock anthem at its finest.

“Ever since ‘Speechless,’ and I guess we did it on ‘I Should Probably Go To Bed’ too, we’ve kind of been looking for a real vocal showcase,” he said. “Something we can perform on an awards show like the CMA’s or go out on our stage and sing it and people say, ‘Man, that’s what I paid money to see.’ We just felt like the song represented everything we think our fans have liked about Dan + Shay up this point, and also was a taste of where we were going.”

Though still relatively new, “Save Me The Trouble” is, undoubtedly, an instant classic within their catalog. “It feels like the early moments of ‘Tequila’ and ‘Speechless,’” he continued, confirming as much. “We go out there and it just feels like one of those songs where people are charged to sing it… like they’ve been singing it for five years like those other songs.”

Pop and Country

Ten years into their mainstream career, “Save Me The Trouble” is indicative of Dan + Shay’s now-tenured position in the industry to make music that feels right to them at that moment. It is a luxury only a handful of other artists in their genre, such as Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini, can claim. These artists benefit from the exposure of the pop world without the constant need to reinvent that plagues pop artists, particularly females.

“If you get a couple of hits on country radio, history speaking, people are able to tour for the rest of their lives,” said Shay, referencing the longevity within country music versus pop music and where he feels most comfortable. “It’s really tough to stay relevant forever in pop. I think country music has done a phenomenal job of building a culture around what it means to be a country fan. We grew up listening to country, and I think it was just the things we were singing about. It’s love, it’s hard work, it’s hard times, it’s heartbreaks… it’s things that we know about. It’s just relatable. It’s things people are living in their normal, everyday lives.”

Come-to-Jesus Moment

As alluded to earlier, struggles during and after the duo’s headline arena tour in 2021 nearly caused the collapse of the band. They discuss it openly and honestly in mini documentary “The Drive” on YouTube, but ultimately decided to continue making music together after some much-needed tough conversations and a “come-to-Jesus” moment.

“We had this meeting and just aired everything out. We talked about what we had been through… what we were feeling. It was a really emotional night, but it was one of the most pivotal nights of our career. We realized that we’ve accomplished some amazing things together, and we shouldn’t let this professional stuff get in the way of our friendship.” That restart led to the creation of what they describe as their favorite album thus far. An album that, for them, was about fun. An album that took them back to their roots.

The Album

Album tracks like “Breakin’ Up With A Broken Heart, “Then Again,” and “What Took You So Long” maintain the momentum and quality spearheaded by “Save Me The Trouble.” “Breakin’ Up…,” the opening track, is a reminder of just how easily Dan + Shay can crank out a radio smash accessible/singable to any gender, while “What Took You…” is musically accessible yet not suitable for a sing-along. Shay’s vocal prowess is front and center, with a six-note run near the end of the track that comes so fluidly from him that it is almost laughable: “Who were you before you were in my arms? / Baby I gotta know-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh. What took you so long? /  Now I’m never letting you go.”

The rollicking “Always Gonna Be,” playful “We Should Get Married,” and tender “For The Both Of Us” have served as additional singles ahead of the album’s release, but the title track “Bigger Houses” is easily the most sentimental song on the project for the two bandmates. The title was derived from a quote from Dan’s wife about taking a step back and learning to appreciate what you have right now, which put everything into perspective: “The thing about happiness I found is / It don’t live in bigger houses.”

About The People You Love/Moments

 “I’m not a material things guy by any means, but it’s hard not to get caught up,” said Dan. “You win a Grammy and think, ‘Well, what if we win two Grammys?’ Then, suddenly, you get caught up chasing what’s next and miss what is right in front of you. There’s always going to be somebody with a bigger house, a taller hill… whatever it is, but it’s just about the people you’re with. The folks that love you, the folks you really love.”

“I feel like I’m at this point in my life where I’m done giving people permission to take my happiness away from me,” said Shay, allowing the message of the song to guide him. “It dawned on me that our band, my family life, our personal relationship… everything has come together in this album. I love the title Bigger Houses because I feel like the joy is truly found in the small things. The little things in life. Moments with my kids, with Dan, with our families… these little moments and experiences we’re able to take with us forever.”

Stream Bigger Houses in full tomorrow on all platforms:

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