Review – Dan + Shay’s “From The Ground Up”

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.

Grade: 5/10

11 thoughts on “Review – Dan + Shay’s “From The Ground Up”

  1. Raymond February 23, 2016 / 1:03 pm

    I actually have to admit I came into this song with rather pessimistic hopes. I’m not a fan of Dan + Shay first album as it felt way too much like they were mimicking Rascal Flatts (2003-2009 Rascal Flatts not early or modern day Rascal Flatts that are somewhat tolerable). What I mean by that is that it was more on the pop-country side and more pop than country (it is country just there’s more pop than country which is never a good thing).

    I like this song not love it, I feel like this one they put a lot of effort and the vocals in my opinion reflect that as Shay Mooney (I think he’s the one who does lead vocals) finally shows some restraint and they harmonize really well. The lyrics while nothing great aren’t half bad and they do their best to sell it. My only complaint is that the production could’ve been better, it’s radio friendly but I wish it was both radio friendly and a generally greatly produced song something some songs have (Maddie & Tae and Brothers Osborne being prime examples of that).

    So for a final grade I’m thinking a 7/10 or a B+ it just barely crosses the +1 territory and I think Dan + Shay have nothing but potential and this song shows it but they need a better producer for them to be my favorites but it’s a step in the right direction.

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    • Derek Hudgin February 23, 2016 / 2:19 pm

      Just curious, what are your main complaints with the production and what, in your opinion, would be an improvement?

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      • Raymond February 23, 2016 / 2:29 pm

        My main complaint is that the production sounds so bland. I’d remove the electric guitar however slight it’s in their and add more of a steel guitar or fiddle for those parts and maybe more emphasis on the piano,

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  2. Kevin Davis February 23, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    Yeah, I don’t know how I would rate this. Even though it may overdose on the sentimental, it is refreshing nonetheless to hear a song about commitment and relationships. The minimal connection to country music is my biggest problem with it, and — as you say — some traditional country arrangements would help the song enormously. Even Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man” has at least some dobro and steel guitar.

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  3. Stephen Hall February 25, 2016 / 12:53 pm

    I sense you actually missed a key component of the song. It’s either about a couple buying a house or planning to move into one, i.e. the ground is literally the foundation of their relationship. Ironic since you dismissed the lyrics as overly simple.

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    • Derek Hudgin February 25, 2016 / 2:21 pm

      I didn’t dismiss the lyrics. I call them cliche, but I still compliment them as the strongest part of the entire song. I also don’t believe that I missed a key component of the song. Yes, they do mention starting a house and use some physical metaphors, but the song is about them starting their lifelong commitment to one another – as I say in the review.

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