Dan + Shay's new album Good Things album was certified Gold on release day, but you won't find lead singer Dan Smyers basking in glory on his front porch this month. That grass ain't gonna cut itself!

You'd assume that after a certain level of success, an artist would, at the very least, hire an enterprising neighborhood teen to mow, trim, weed and blow the yard each week, right? A pro may cost $50 or $100 a week, but that's reasonable for one half of a pairing that has five multi-Platinum singles, four Platinum singles or albums, six Gold singles or albums (plus touring revenue, endorsements, royalties, etc ...).

The time commitment alone is daunting. "It's like eight or nine hours to mow the dang yard," Smyers, a co-writer of most of these wins, says. "It's a massive job."

He knows, because he still does it himself.

Talking to Taste of Country Nights, Smyers admits that his frugality makes it even more difficult. "By myself, by hand," he says. "I'm too cheap to buy riding mowers. I still got the same push mower I got for about $200 back at the Sears Outlet on Thompson Ln. Man, it's rockin'. It gets the job done."

attachment-Good Things Album Art
Warner Music Nashville

The 34-year-old Smyers says he mows, weeds, trims and blows — time constraints kept hosts Evan and Amber from getting into his fertilizer cycle or any battles with grubs, but the tone in his voice tells us he DIYs all of it.

"It's gotta be pristine, man. It's gotta be pristine," he says during the phone interview.

Smyers and Shay Mooney's Good Things album is their fourth and first since the self-titled album from 2018. Two singles from the album have already hit No. 1 on Billboard's Country Airplay chartm with a third ("I Should Probably Go to Bed") stopping at No. 2. "Steal My Love" is Dan + Shay's new single. Smyers also had a hand in writing that love song.

Best Country Albums of 2021 - Critic's Pick

There have been many creative country albums in 2021, but not all have hit the mark. Artists are more than ever toying with distribution methods and packaging as much as they are new sounds, so you get double and triple albums, Part 1 and Part 2, and digital EPs in lieu of a traditional 10 or 11-song release.

The bar for an EP on this list of the best country albums of 2021 is higher than an LP, but one project did crack the Top 10. Too much music proved to dampen other artist's efforts, although Alan Jackson's first album in years was filled with country music we couldn't turn away from. Where Have You Gone has 21 songs, but somehow no filler.

More than ever, this relied on staff opinion and artistic merit to allow for some parity among major label artists and independents. The 10 albums listed below are not ranked, although the year-end list published in the fall will crown a true best album of 2021.

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