A Mercury Nashville Release / UMG Recordings Inc.
Release Date: January 28th 2022
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- What’s It Like Loving You
- Woman You Got
- Don’t Make Her Look Dumb (feat. Morgane Stapleton)
- Grown Man Cry
- The Other Side (feat. Lori McKenna)
- Wish You The Best
‘…One of the most surprising duos to ever grace country music are Maddie & Tae- they graced the radio waves with songs like ‘Girl in a Country Song’ and ‘Die From a Broken Heart’ back in the mid-2010s, and since then, both Maddie Font & Taylor Kerr have crafted a career that has really challenged country music as a whole the stereotypical views about women in country music- ‘Girl in a Country Song’ really got on the nerves of a few country acts around that time, while the song ‘Shut Up and Fish’, from the duo’s debut record, also touched upon stereotypes, and really tried to role-reverse a typical gender-stereotype prevalent in songs previously, and made the track relevant so that women of the modern age could relate to such a song, rather than everything else that was on the radio at that time. Fast forward to 2022, and since we wrote about them in our blog in late 2020, Maddie & Tae have since released their most recent EP Through the Madness Vol. 1 (a review coming soon), as well as their Christmas EP, We Need Christmas back in October 2020. Both girls are now married with kids, and the band are now looking on the up and up. Maybe a Through the Madness Vol. 2 coming soon?…’ Maddie & Tae, quite possibly the most compelling and interesting country music duo’s I’ve heard in quite a few years (yes, I would say that these girls are much more relevant to the industry compared with their country duo peers- Florida Georgia Line & Dan + Shay…I’m looking at you!), are back with a new album/long-ish EP in the form of Through the Madness, Vol. 1, and upon the heels of us reviewing their chart-topping 2020 album The Way It Feels, alongside their Christmas EP We Need Christmas, and the singles ‘Woman You Got’, ‘Life Ain’t Fair’ and ‘Mood Ring’; I figured, that it’s only fitting and fair that I write about my own musings and thoughts about Through The Madness, Vol. 1, right? Maddie Font & Taylor Kerr are Maddie & Tae, and while this duo isn’t necessarily as popular as other duos/bands out there in the country music industry, they are by no means, any less talented than any other band/duo- they are in fact one of my favourite up-and-coming bands I’ve heard, ever since CCM/pop duo for KING & COUNTRY back in the day. Impactful and influential, compelling, and challenging (as we can see in our blog post about them and their music that we as a site wrote in late 2020), this duo’s 8 track project is by far, one of the most poignant and emotive offerings of music by any country artist this year- up there with albums from artists like The Shires, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, Tenille Townes & Hailey Whitters, to name a few.
The first single from the EP/album, ‘Woman You Got’ was unveiled to us in April 2021, and we as a site wrote about our thoughts here. But lemme just refresh our memories about what we thought about the song- ‘Woman You Got’ shows us a song that is as honest as it is vulnerable, that even though the initial target audience for said song (and the target niche audience for Maddie & Tae in general) is women; people of all ages can find something in their music that they can relate to, even me. The song showcases ‘…an honest and vulnerable baring of the soul, and a reminder that marriage and being in a relationship with somebody is a commitment and is something where you learn something new about the other person every day. And as Maddie & Tae are extremely vulnerable here, reminding us all that even in platonic relationships that honesty is the key; the girls have created an anthem for the ages, as we are encouraged to speak out about the things nearest and dearest to our hearts, and about the fact that there are things about us that are a part of our DNA. They are what make us, well, us; and this song implies that it is a privilege to allow people every day to see more and more of the real us. surely the end goal is for each person most special to us to know us all fully and inside and out, right?…’ Maddie Font and Taylor Kerr have showcased a BOP with ‘Woman You Got’, as we’re given hope, that there are women out there, that are unashamedly and confidently themselves, and that is a very good thing indeed. Maybe them being confident in who they are, ought to allow us men to feel confident in who we are, too.
Throughout the rest of the EP, Maddie Font and Taylor Kerr present powerful messages of hope, sass, emotion, joy and love, as these remainder 7 songs continue, thematically and stylistically, from where ‘Woman You Got’ left off. ‘What It’s Like Loving You’, track #1 of the project; is presented across the backdrop of light acoustic riffs as this groovy melody asks the questions that all people in young love ask at some point or another. How is young love supposed to feel, and if this is what I’m feeling right now (which can either be good or not as good), then is this what loving you is going to feel like for the foreseeable future? Questions that don’t necessarily become answered right away (or in a nice, neat bow), but still, are questions that need to be pondered and asked, if only to have discussion around these issues of young love, and if that’s really any different to love that has stood the test of time. ‘Grown Man Cry’ is a song where the persona in the track (a girl) is making people cry all around her- the song itself is presented with a relationship post-breakup, and the statement of how the ‘girl can make a grown man cry’ is thrown around- in a way that the person that is crying is crying with a sense of lament and regret, wishing as though they didn’t let the persona go and ‘get away’, and wishing as though they were still in the relationship that they’re not currently in, for whatever reason.
‘Madness’ follows along from ‘Grown Man Cry’; and is one of the pre-release songs unveiled to us when Through The Madness, Vol. 1 was unveiled for preorder, in late last year. ‘Madness’ is a reminder that these last few years are in fact that, madness, and how we are go get through these difficult times, are with friends, family, and maybe just embracing a little bit of the madness too. Madness comes when you can’t necessarily control certain outcomes in life, and maybe that’s ok. For such a thing as COVID-19, can induce a ‘madness’ state in people that they maybe thought they didn’t even have- Maddie & Tae’s song reminds us that, that yes, even though the maddening days will come, that the ways people will get through it, is surrounding ourselves with people who care as much about us, as we care about them; that sometimes to see where the madness takes us and the journey we go on, can be much more fulfilling, rather than fighting for the control we really know we have to relinquish, especially now, for the last few years. ‘Wish You The Best’ captures more of the sass these girls are known for (see ‘Girl in a Country Song’ for more sass from Maddie and Tae), as this song is a tongue in cheek ‘wishing someone the best’ after a breakup, but then knowing deep down (and telling them too) that the best they’re ever going to have, is with them- therefore, wishing them the best is a bittersweet thing to do. You want to mean well, and you want the other person to find success and love in the future, but if you believe that they already reached that with you- well, wishing them the best regardless, is going to sting them…a lot.
‘Don’t Make Her Look Dumb’, ‘The Other Side’ and ‘Strangers’ are my favourite three standouts from Maddie & Tae’s new EP, and all three deliver the emotional punches that this duo is so famous in undertaking (and also succeeding) in albums gone by. ‘The Other Side’ is a great motivational, inspirational song about getting through difficulties and going through the other side, understanding that ‘…there’s strength in the weakness, and light in the pieces, even broke down hearts know how to shine, there’s wisdom in the waiting and peace in the patience, time always takes care of the changing tide, don’t let nobody tell you otherwisе, you’re closer than you think to the othеr side…’ It’s a powerful song about hope, and understanding that even during the moments where you can’t even see the other side of the tunnel even being present, that the Lord our God has got us, that He’s carrying us, that every day is us being closer to where He wants us to be. That sometimes, us being in the space between the now and the ‘where we want to be’ is exactly where God Himself wants us to be, and for whatever reason we may not even comprehend, He sees us being woven, through life, and by Himself, to become men and women of resilience, compassion, and empathy. And if this song (and the results of COVID-19, and God Himself) encourages us all to not lose hope, then Maddie & Tae have done a job well done. As Maddie herself relays about how the song is personal in her own life, we see that ‘…Tae was talking about what it was like for her watching me walk through a really hard season of depression after we had our label shut down—basically, the rug was just completely pulled out from under us. Josh [her husband] said, ‘I loved whenever Tae said. I know that she’s having a hard time, but she’s going to make it to the other side. She always does, every time.’ And so, we took that really sweet sentiment and turned it into this beautiful lyric of meeting someone in their pain and saying, ‘I know this is rough. I know exactly what you’re feeling. But I just want to give you a little bit of encouragement until you get to the other side.’ I use it as a song for myself sometimes, which is a little vain, but sometimes I need to hear that song, too…’ ‘Don’t Make Her Look Dumb’ is a heartfelt song that is a warning of sorts- to love someone wholeheartedly, and that if you can’t, then just walk away. Don’t go around playing with someone’s emotions, having one foot in and one foot out of a certain relationship, just because you’re not sure. The song also encourages people to give grace, mercy and extend compassion to others who may have had relationship failures. And that just because we say the vows ‘to death do us part’, and mean them tremendously, doesn’t mean that life doesn’t throw us a curveball sometimes, and that in some rare cases, divorces (or even separation) can occur. And if that extreme case happens, we have to be there for the people involved, and to extend grace and charity, rather than condemnation and judgement. ‘Strangers’ is the final song on the album, and really speaks about this idea and notion of destiny, serendipitous fate, and connecting of people in relationships, as we see through this song, that the persona is really trying to understand that their significant other, and them, were in fact strangers before, even though they grew up in the same town as each other. It’s an understanding and a confronting notion, that maybe your significant other could be closer (geographically) than we may even perceive or think, and that maybe, our eyes ought to be open to the possibility that our partner could be ‘right in front of us’, maybe in a literal sense, but definitely in a metaphorical sense. It hopefully gives us impetus and motivation to be on the lookout, to be the best versions of us we know we can be, because then and only then, will our significant other come into our lives, and we’ll know the ‘stranger’ that will indeed become the best person we’ll ever get to know.
Maddie & Tae’s new album (is it an album, or just a long-ish EP?) is one of 2022’s best, and while it could’ve been more complete with the addition of both ‘Life Ain’t Fair’ and ‘Mood Ring’; Through The Madness, Vol. 1 consists of 8 of some of the best songs I’ve heard from the duo, ever since ‘Girl in a Country Song’, ‘Fly’ and ‘Shut Up and Fish’ from their debut album all those years ago. While still not at the status and respect as other country girl-bands/duos like The Chicks, SheDAISY and Pistol Annies; Maddie & Tae are weill on their way to becoming a force to be reckoned with, not just within the realms of country music, but in all of music, full stop. Well done Maddie and well done Tae, for such a powerful set of songs. Looking forward to what the Lord has in store, for the upcoming weeks and months ahead.
3 songs to listen to: The Other Side, Strangers, Don’t Make Her Look Dumb
RIYL: Lindsay Ell, Maren Morris, Tenille Townes, Chris Stapleton, Thomas Rhett