Dan + Shay have carved themselves a distinct niche in mainstream country music apart from the bro party atmosphere. Instead of adhering to the anthemic hook-up trends, these two went the direction of Rascal Flatts with a more tender approach to their songs. As many mainstream acts continue push musical boundaries and sing of one night stands, Dan + Shay stay steady on their path of pop country (if you can even call it country) with their new single, “From The Ground Up.” This is a song poised to kick off the campaign for the duo’s second album. And in light of Thomas Rhett’s success with “Die A Happy Man,” Dan + Shay look to find their own success with a boy-band esc. love ballad.
“From The Ground Up” is a simple story of love. The narrator and his new wife are ready to start a family and build their love and life from the ground up. From the simple beginnings of laying the foundation and putting in the work, just like their grandparents have done over 65 years. The lyrics are the narrator’s devotion to his wife and their future, reading just like a wedding vow. The lyrics are cheesy and hit all the necessary little notes to rope in the mass of females with a belief in true love. “Beside you I’ll stand through the good and the bad. We’ll give all that we have, and we’ll build this love from the ground up.” The lyrics are sincere, and they have way more heart than most attempts at love songs on the radio recently. The disjointed stanzas and half-finished clauses read a little choppy, but the intention of the message is obvious.
The production though, doesn’t help the song. The melody is an orchestra-like arrangement of strings, pianos, and bells with a faint electric guitar and a simple percussion beat. It sounds like a musical arrangement you’d hear on an old Backstreet Boys or N’SYNC song. It’s almost as if the producers weren’t sure that the loving power of lyrics was obvious, so they overproduced the melody so the listeners know it’s powerful and meaningful. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how contrived the vocals sound with the forceful inflections. Dan + Shay and their team apparently need to have a hit love ballad in their repertoire, and the producers left nothing to chance.
“From The Ground Up” just sounds too contrived. A simple piano arrangement with some assistance from a dobro or steel guitar would have been just as, if not more effective in complimenting the song’s message (and also give the song some essence of country music). The buzz words are there in the lyrics that anyone with half a brain can decipher that “From The Ground Up” is meant to be a tender love song. The lines about being a shelter through the wind and the rain are just too cliché among the other clichéd love lines. This isn’t a bad song from Dan + Shay at all, it’s just so obvious that they’re trying to make sure “From The Ground Up” is received as a powerful love ballad.