A Mercury Nashville Release / UMG Recordings Inc.
Release Date: September 23rd 2022
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Well In Your World
- Every Night Every Morning
- Drinking To Remember
- Girl After My Own Heart
- Watching Love Leave
- More Than Maybe
- These Tears
- Spring Cleaning
Prior to the past few years, I wasn’t that open to many country artists. Well… maybe aside from Carrie Underwood; but I was actually subconsciously immersed in Carrie’s music long ago- during my teenage years. Yet this year (and also throughout the last couple of years as well!), I’ve been much more receptive to and captivated by the genre. By watching Grady Smith’s youtube channel of country reviews on a regular basis since mid-2020; I’ve become much more open to country music, and all in all, I’ve found that I love listening to authentic country music that tells a story…even though I’m not American. Up-and-coming country duo Maddie & Tae have been one of the surprise artists recently that have engaged and resonated with me; and one such country artist that has thoroughly delivered above and beyond anything I could ever envision a country artist recording and displaying to the world. Maddison Font and Taylor Kerr are songwriters and vocalists in their own right- and when you read my review of The Way It Feels, as well as my blog about them, and also listen to Matthew West’s podcast with them; I’m sure you’ll agree that these girls will be the talk on everyone’s lips in the many months and years to come. With their hit songs “Die From A Broken Heart” and “Girl In A Country Song” each achieving stratospheric success (within the country music scene at least!); the girls were on their way to tour their second full length album in 2020 and in 2021… and that’s when the pandemic hit. Like all musicians, Maddie & Tae recalibrated and re-evaluated… and thus the Christmas EP We Need Christmas was born.
At the beginning of last year, with the country (of the U.S.) only just opening up to a small degree for concerts; Maddie & Tae released “Woman You Got” in March 2021, a sassy, no-nonsense declaration of love for their husbands, as the duo also convey that even in platonic relationships that honesty is the key to the aforementioned relationship thriving. In May that same year, we were also blessed to hear “Mood Ring”, another melody from the girls that is essentially calling out someone on their toxicity and fickle emotions, reminding us all that we do not need to endure relationships that bring us down mentally and emotionally. While as of August 2021, the girls delivered to us yet another new track- the happy-go-lucky and vibrant “Life Ain’t Fair”, whereby the girls sing out through guitars that life isn’t fair sometimes (subtly alluding to COVID-19), but then reassuring us that life still goes on, and we all have to make the best of a bad situation. In January this year, the girls unveiled probably their most vulnerable and emotional release yet- Through The Madness Vol. 1 (which we reviewed here), comprising of “Woman You Got” and further standout tracks like “Don’t Make Her Look Dumb”, “Grown Man Cry”, “Madness” and “Strangers”. And while you can read my brother Jon’s thoughts on the release at your own pace; this past week Maddie & Tae have ‘completed’ their new ‘album’ of sorts, releasing the 8-song EP Through The Madness Vol. 2. Jon reviewed the girls’ first release of the year… so I guess it’s natural that I voice my opinion on the second, don’t you reckon?
I go back to the very beginning of our career when Maddie and I had just met we’re like, can we make this into like our career? I don’t know. Is that crazy? Just the thought of it actually happening and how rare that is makes me feel very blessed.
As time went on and the more trials that we went through and overcame, it became really obvious to us that maybe our purpose was to write through it and to release that music and to maybe help people going through other stuff. [The new album] it’s kind of intense, but in a good way. I mean, it’s about as honest as we’ve ever been and I think fans are gonna like that.
[As for the upcoming tour] the fact that our fans are still coming after that many postpone situations, is incredible. I feel like just honored that we get to be kind of like Sasha and Abby’s Carrie [the mentor to the support acts on the tour], like what Carrie was to us, is what we’re hoping to be to them and to just be someone they can lean on in the beginning steps of their careers. They’ve been at it for a long time, but just the beginning of this part of it, getting to kind of be there for them and champion them.
Through the Madness Vol. 1 was a project that I thoroughly loved and that is one of my favourite albums/EP’s of the year thus far. The lyricism and themes delivered in that release were incredibly relevant and relatable to the times of today and into the future; and the passion and heart for relevant issues only is strengthened in this album. “Every Night Every Morning”, the first single from the project, is a track that speaks about the unconditional love the persona in the track has towards her husband. As we see this message of unconditional love, and a love that lasts for years and years, that never fades when everything else around starts to; the female persona in this track is declaring to her significant other that ‘…every night and every morning, I fall all over again and again and you don’t even know it, baby, if you’re wonderin’ when you hold me if I still feel forever, only every night and every morning…’. And we are listeners are presented with the question to our own significant others- do we have a love shown in the song, and can we say to our partner that we are thinking about them every night and every morning? Do we take ourselves too seriously (because we shouldn’t!), and can we partake in small talk with our significant others, without it feeling like a chore or even a bore? Let us hope, pray, and take active steps for our love for each other, to emulate what is shown in the song. And just maybe, we can act a little more selflessly and conduct ourselves more humbly, every night and every morning, as we seek to make our relationships (be it romantic or even platonic) all the better in the process.
The rest of the EP carries on from where “Every Night Every Morning” leaves off- with poignant, heartfelt lyrics and moving and inspiring themes that transcend time and are more or less universal across race, religion, socioeconomic classes, gender, and other societal norms. Maddie & Tae have delivered an album that everyone can listen to; and a release that can touch and inspire everyone who listens. “Spring Cleaning”, the second single, is a savage and brutal takedown of an ex, and a rock tune at heart, with the girls relaying that they’re not even broken up about this person not being in their lives, singing out that ‘…ooh, you’re takin’ up space, it’s time to tidy up and take you out my brain, ooh, what do you see? Cleanin’ out the closet looks good on me, it ain’t spring, but I’m cleanin’ house, it ain’t spring, but I’m cleanin’ out…’. It’s an intense melody about cleaning out every part of your life that is cluttered, with the girls also outlining that we all need to take stock, and treasure the most important parts of our lives; while the EP opener “Well In Your World” is a hopeful, personal and honest tune about wishing an ex well that you haven’t seen or thought about in forever. We all have those sliding doors moments about wishing about what would have happened if this decision was made versus that one; and this track beautifully encapsulates this tension and this feeling of FOMO. The girls reiterate that they’re happy with their lives at the moment, but in this song, the persona speaks about sometimes thinking about the what ifs with that other person. it’s natural to think about the ‘could have been’s’. But this song, like reality, forces us to not dwell on the past that often, and instead wish that person well and move on. Sure, we may have had good times with that other person in our lives that we’re not in contact with right now; and sure, we may not give them a second thought at the moment. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be cordial, nice and kind to everyone we meet, and not wish people the best.
“Drinking To Remember”, a moving, emotional, and heartbreaking melody, speaks about the immediate aftermath of a messy (or even amicable!) breakup, where the persona drinks their ex’s favourite alcohol of choice, in order to remember the good parts of their relationship because she’s not over him yet; as Maddie & Tae remind us that people take time to heal from any break up and that sometimes drinking in excess, though unhealthy, is part of the healing process, and is indeed a coping mechanism, even if a friend has to step in if the persona in question is continuing to make ugly and unwise choices. “Girl After My Own Heart”, a sassy, no-nonsense track that encourages us to lay claim in no uncertain terms what is ours, deals with the concept of a woman wanting to pursue a married man, and the married woman giving this person some friendly advice and some wisdom after she catches her trying to go after her husband. Maddie & Tae also deliver another heartfelt and emotional moment in the powerful ballad “Watching Love Leave”, where the persona laments about a guy who slipped through her fingers and she watched leave while not standing up for what she thought was the right relationship for her; while “More Than Maybe” is a piano and acoustic guitar led ballad that essentially encourages us all to take a stand for something, and to not be so indecisive and wanting to ‘take both sides’ and to ‘have your cake and eat it’. The song speaks about a woman saying to her man to decide for himself if she’s the one for him and to not be on the fence; but this melody can apply to anything- because being lukewarm (especially in Christianity, but essentially in anything) isn’t a good thing at all, as it means that you’re aren’t committed fully one way or the other. Maddie & Tae also present to us “These Tears”, a vulnerable moment and probably the most personal track on the album- where the girls relay to us that sometimes emotions get the best of us and sometimes we can heal from severe trauma and harrowing experiences from crying and being real with our emotions about it: I was sobbing, like completely sobbing while singing that and somehow, some way we got a whole live vocal, unedited, untouched, and just got a raw vocal from that day. It was really healing, but you know, I was a cry baby for like the whole six months of that song.
I used to think that I’m not the ‘target audience’ of Maddie & Tae. This was especially evident as The Way It Feels delves deep into the security of relationships and the transient nature of falling in and out of love- and as a single person, I can’t relate to these songs as well as others. Yet there’s something about Maddie & Tae in general that makes me keep coming back and listening despite the initial misgivings and the initial apprehensiveness. It’s the realness of these songs, it’s the authenticity, the vulnerability, the emotion, the honesty, and the heartfelt nature of the lyrics that pull at my emotions. If you’re not impacted by a number of songs from Maddie & Tae; then what can I say? You’re not really human? Anyway, as you guys all read more about what I have to say about Maddie Font and Taylor Kerr in my blog, and how God has used them to strengthen my faith and how God has used them to open my eyes more about the complexities of life; let us dive deep into all of Maddie & Tae’s albums, inclusive of both Through The Madness Vol. 1 and Through The Madness Vol. 2. It may take a few listens, if you’re not a fan of country; but I guarantee that you’ll find something compelling and inspiring that you will resonate with. Does this mean that this year or next year, Maddie & Tae will release a full-length album of 18 tracks? 8 + 8 + both singles of “Mood Ring” and “Life Ain’t Fair”? Only time will tell. While probably still not at the status and respect as other country girl-bands/duos like The Chicks and Pistol Annies; Maddie & Tae are well 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 both Maddie and 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: Well In Your World, Drinking To Remember, These Tears
RIYL: Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Shania Twain, LeAnn Rimes, Kacey Musgraves, Luke Coombs, Dan + Shay