If you live in the UK, then it’s a pretty fair assumption that you’ve been seeing/hearing The Shires everywhere this year. Their promotional and booking teams are clearly working overtime to get the pop country duo in front of all kinds of audiences, and they’re continuing to build momentum with the sixth single from their debut album ‘Brave’, titled ‘I Just Wanna Love You’. This track is one of my favourites on the record if not my overall favourite, so I’m glad that they chose to air it out on radio and in public performances.
Usually a key draw for me is the quality of the lyrics, but actually in this case it’s the melody that strikes me the most. The lyrics are sweet enough, nothing hugely original or complicated, but they do their job in depicting a love that is completely fulfilling despite other aspects of life being technically dissatisfactory. “All that I wanted was a real big house and more money than anyone could need, now I’m all grown up I know I’m broke, but I don’t need to spend a dime, since I met you all I need is your time,” Ben and Crissie sing during the first verse, highlighting how love can make other earthly desires seem unimportant. It’s certainly one of their more poignant tracks, and I like how they keep the message utterly simple.
But that melody – there’s something about it that is extremely pretty, the way it wavers and takes twists and turns that stick to the key’s sweet spot but keep things interesting. The piano line, which begins the song, helps to keep the vocal melody grounded and enhances the effect even as drums come in to build the pace of the track, and subtle electric guitar strums work to layer the texture. The duo blend particularly well here as well, their harmonies setting the song alight and their taking turns on lead for the verses smartly crafting it as a duet. Because they aren’t a couple, however, we are saved from the cringe-worthy ‘happily married’ slant on their material, leaving the subject(s) of ‘I Just Wanna Love You’ out in the open air, just a little mysterious (although Ben just got engaged, so not too mysterious).
I am a little worried, however, that the country community in the UK will reach Shires saturation point. Sure, the pop crowds are just being introduced to them via the mainstream media, but the pair have been dominating on the country scene for over two years, and I wonder how much longer before they will need to take a break. After all, they pretty much have support slots for US acts on lockdown (Zac Brown Band and Apple Music Festival are recent examples), they’re being played in shops and cafes, they’re out on a headlining UK tour for the second time this year, and they’re appearing on the likes of the Graham Norton Show. This is the sixth single from their album, they get a lot of play on BBC Radio, and although no word on their involvement with C2C 2016 has yet been released, they will likely appear on the Satellite Stage again, or at the very least multiple performances on the pop-up stages and at the after parties throughout the weekend. While their songs are solid, not everyone is a fan (particularly those preferring more twang), and I fear the loyal country audience here will start to get tired of them.
That said, I can see The Shires releasing more singles from this album, notably ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ and ‘Brave’. I’m not sure they are ready to slow their momentum just yet. For now, however, I will enjoy ‘I Just Wanna Love You’, a rather lovely little song.