Release Date: October 23rd 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- This Christmas
- Holly Jolly Christmas
- Come All Ye Faithful
- Merry Married Christmas
- Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
- We Need Christmas
“…We all love the feeling that Christmas music brings. It was exciting because we’ve always wanted to make a Christmas record, we’ve just never had the time to really dive in and give it what we wanted to give it. This year, when we found out everything was canceled we thought what better time and what better way to use our time than to spark some joy in people’s lives. We had a blast (but) going into the studio was different. Like everything this year, we had to wear masks, but just to be able to be creative and cross something off our bucket list was a joy… That’s exactly what we’re thinking as long as we have the time to do it [a full Christmas album]. We’ve already been talking to our record label because we had so much fun making that and it would just be a cool tradition for us to continue to add to the project. We didn’t really have enough time to make a full year album this year but that’s definitely where our brains are my friend!…”
Prior to this year, I think I wasn’t that open to much country artists (aside from Carrie Underwood!), but this year I’ve bene much more receptive to and captivated by the genre, as 8 or the 9 artists I’ve blogged about so far that are classified as ‘country’ are artists I’ve written about in 2020. By watching Grady Smith’s youtube channel of country reviews, I’ve become much more open to this genre, and all in all, I’ve found that I love listening to authentic country music that tells a story. Maddie & Tae have been one of the surprise artists this year to engage with and resonate with me, and one such country artist that has thoroughly delivered above and beyond anything I could even envision a country artist recording and showing 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, and my blog about them; I’m sure you’ll agree that these guys 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; the girls were on their way to tour their second album this year… and that’s when the pandemic hit.
Like all musicians, Maddie and Tae recalibrated and re-evaluated… and thus we Need Christmas EP was born, and what an EP it is! In the spirit of it being December and close to Christmas- a holiday we all need desperately (for some normalcy and some sense of unity and harmony, as we celebrate Jesus and the closeness of our loved ones to us); Maddie & Tae’s album was one I intended to ‘review’ or at least voice my brief thoughts on- but no way in the world did I think that I’d be saying that this is one of the ‘best’ Christmas release this year thus far! I say ‘best’ because everyone’s opinions are simply that- subjective. But let me briefly touch upon these 6 songs and remind you that just as Christmas brings us all together, so too can Maddie & Tae bring country fans and country haters together!
“This Christmas” is the EP opener, and is a fun, joyful, celebratory and energetic holiday tune, with both vocalists singing together in perfect harmony- that essentially is a celebration of friends and family during the chaotic yet hopeful and refreshing season (easily the best upbeat holiday song out there!); while Maddie and Tae strip back “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” to create an acoustic guitar prominent emotional track of tight harmonies and beautiful vocals. Is it then premature to say that these girls are in the same league vocally to Carrie Underwood? Perhaps, but they are getting there, no doubt about it! “Holly, Jolly Christmas” may only be 2 minutes long, however the girls create a moment of happiness and joy here, in this acoustic guitar pop ditty about us all having a holly, jolly Christmas; while the lone worshipful carol is “O Come All Ye Faithful”, a slower tempo acapella-style exquisite rendition that almost rivals the strikingly musically different Pentatonix version. Rounding out the EP are two originals- with “Merry Married Christmas” being a track that dives deep into the love both Maddie and Tae have for their husbands. Yet it is the Matthew West penned title track that is the most important Christmas song this year that we need to listen to. The lyrics are self-explanatory, as the girls outline that in this crazy pandemic, we need Christmas more than ever, for unity and for reminding us all that we’re not alone. As we hear the emotional and honest lyrics of ‘…This world could use a little healing, our hearts could surely use something to believe in, we need Christmas now more than ever, bring us together, we need Christmas come on December, help us remember, the joy, the peace and the hope that love can bring, oh we need Christmas…’, the girls dive deep into the necessity of holidays and the need to celebrate a fundamental truth that doesn’t change- and as we remember that our life shouldn’t be lived on the sand but on a rock and a solid foundation of Jesus, “We Need Christmas” is a reminder that no matter how bad things get, Jesus is constant. The birth of Jesus is constant and something that will always remain true- and that indeed is something to still celebrate. Even if and especially when we don’t feel like celebrating.
“…We’re feeling very grateful. I think that’s just the common theme. We’re very tired like everybody, but more than that we’re just thankful that we have stayed healthy and have still had ways to reach out to our fans, whether that be music or social media, or just whatever it may be, we’ve still gotten to do our job. That makes us happy. We’ve gotten to dive in to being wives and our friendships, and our relationships with our family; all of it has thrived during this time and we’re so blessed for that. We know that’s not the case for most people. We’re just trying to remain with a positive perspective but some days it is really hard…some days, I am just like, grumpy pants so badly and have a horrible attitude, and then I’m like, ‘okay, you know what? Some days are just harder than others and that’s okay’…”
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 We Need Christmas EP. It may take a couple of listens, if you’re not a fan of country, but I guarantee that you’ll find inspiring and heartfelt songs that you will resonate with. Especially the title track.
3 songs to listen to: This Christmas, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), We Need Christmas
RIYL: Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Shania Twain, LeAnn Rimes, Kacey Musgraves, Luke Coombs, Dan + Shay