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Country - Released April 10, 2020 | Mercury Nashville

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Country - Released April 10, 2020 | Mercury Nashville

Maddie & Tae traveled a long road to get to The Way It Feels, their second album. As they were settling in to record a sequel to their 2014 debut Start Here, their label folded, forcing the duo to shift over to UMG Nashville, a move that wasn't necessarily painful, but did keep them off the airwaves for a prolonged period of time. They reemerged in 2019 with the One Heart to Another EP, which was quickly followed by another one called Everywhere I'm Goin', recordings that helped ease them back onto the airwaves, setting the stage for the spring 2020 release of their sophomore set. The Way It Feels combines the entirety of the two 2019 EPs -- that winds up being ten of the album's 15 songs -- but that's only one reason why the album feels a bit familiar, lacking the kick that characterized a good portion of Start Here. Specifically, Maddie & Tae avoid the barbed humor and snappy beat of their breakthrough hit "Girl in a Country Song," choosing to crank up the guitars and drums for just two numbers: "Bathroom Floor" and "New Dog Old Tricks," both cuts that closed out their respective EPs. This leaves the rest of The Way It Feels to explore the soft territory separating country-pop and adult contemporary, singing tales of love won and lost while taking the occasional detour to play a bit of sunny cheer. If The Way It Feels could use a little bit more of the latter -- when "Write a Book," one of the handful of new tunes here, breezes in at the midway point, the album seems to lift into the air -- all the besotted ballads and sad songs are impeccably crafted from stem to stern. Maddie & Tae and their cast of supporting writers know how to sculpt tuneful, sincere country tunes and their harmonies aren't merely convincing, but prove a balm, sounding sweet and soulful even underneath the layers of gloss by producers Jimmy Robbins and Derek Wells. The end result may not be as grabbing as Start Here, but it is professional-grade Nashville country-pop, the kind of music that sounds richer, fuller, and better with repeated plays. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released October 18, 2019 | Mercury Nashville

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Country - Released September 6, 2019 | Mercury Nashville

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Country - Released June 2, 2015 | Dot Records

Maddie & Tae constructed their initial single, "Girl in a Country Song," as a battle cry camouflaged as satire: it took dead aim at the bros, but the duo smiled as they sank in the shiv. Clever as it was, "Girl in a Country Song" ran the risk of pegging Maddie & Tae as a novelty act but their full-length 2015 debut, Start Here, proves the hit was an opening salvo in a long-term mission to take back the contemporary country airwaves from hunks in tight jeans. Start Here is a proudly female album in addition to being a record that fully embraces the joys and occasional sorrows of being young, smart, funny, and ambitious. Given their precocious, pop-friendly attitude and association with Big Machine Records, it's easy to compare Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye to Taylor Swift, but Maddie & Tae emulate neither the skillful adolescent poetry nor the folky fragility of early Swift. They're an unabashed country act, gliding between heartbreak harmonies and punch lines with aplomb, the gilded ease masquerading the careful craft behind these 11 songs, every one of which bears songwriting credits by the duo. Craft is always a key component of the Nashville machine and producer Dann Huff ensures that Start Here follows the contours of commercial country; this isn't outsider music, this is bright, shiny country that cherishes polish as much as twang. The reason Start Here feels fresh lies entirely with Maddie & Tae, how they're tomboys who wish their boyfriend would just "Shut Up and Fish," how they feel as genuine when they're settling into sentiment on "Fly" as they do on "Sierra" when they pray for the downfall of a mean girl. In another's hands, such scheming could seem crass or nasty but placed in the context of Start Here, where it's surrounded by both sweetness and swagger, it simply adds another dimension to an album that embodies all the complex contradictions and unfettered optimism of modern country-pop in 2015. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released April 26, 2019 | Mercury Nashville

It took Maddie & Tae nearly four years to deliver a follow-up to Start Here and its two hits, "Girl in a Country Song" and "Fly." When it did arrive, it was in the form of One Heart to Another, a five-song EP that contained the minor 2018 single "Friends Don't," and "Die from a Broken Heart." Part of the long delay could be chalked up to their label Dot folding in 2017, an event that led them to UMG Nashville. Unfortunately, that doesn't quite explain how the One Heart to Another EP feels frozen in time, as if it was recorded in 2015, not 2019. The duo remains appealing -- their harmonies flow easily, their original compositions are considered and sturdy -- but the hazy, soft-focused production of the EP feels slightly out of fashion in 2019. Trapped between old-fashioned pop-country and adult contemporary, the music is as comforting as a warm bath yet lacking any of the clever, defiant wit of Start Here. The one track that doesn't sound overly smooth and polished is "New Dog Old Tricks," a bright country-rocker that pulses to a sequenced beat, but the gaiety feels forced. Nevertheless, the track helps put One Heart to Another into perspective, showing that Maddie & Tae have a lot of old-school Nashville gifts, even if that talent may mean that they sometimes sound a little old-fashioned at times. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released June 2, 2015 | Dot Records

Booklet
Maddie & Tae constructed their initial single, "Girl in a Country Song," as a battle cry camouflaged as satire: it took dead aim at the bros, but the duo smiled as they sank in the shiv. Clever as it was, "Girl in a Country Song" ran the risk of pegging Maddie & Tae as a novelty act but their full-length 2015 debut, Start Here, proves the hit was an opening salvo in a long-term mission to take back the contemporary country airwaves from hunks in tight jeans. Start Here is a proudly female album in addition to being a record that fully embraces the joys and occasional sorrows of being young, smart, funny, and ambitious. Given their precocious, pop-friendly attitude and association with Big Machine Records, it's easy to compare Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye to Taylor Swift, but Maddie & Tae emulate neither the skillful adolescent poetry nor the folky fragility of early Swift. They're an unabashed country act, gliding between heartbreak harmonies and punch lines with aplomb, the gilded ease masquerading the careful craft behind these 11 songs, every one of which bears songwriting credits by the duo. Craft is always a key component of the Nashville machine and producer Dann Huff ensures that Start Here follows the contours of commercial country; this isn't outsider music, this is bright, shiny country that cherishes polish as much as twang. The reason Start Here feels fresh lies entirely with Maddie & Tae, how they're tomboys who wish their boyfriend would just "Shut Up and Fish," how they feel as genuine when they're settling into sentiment on "Fly" as they do on "Sierra" when they pray for the downfall of a mean girl. In another's hands, such scheming could seem crass or nasty but placed in the context of Start Here, where it's surrounded by both sweetness and swagger, it simply adds another dimension to an album that embodies all the complex contradictions and unfettered optimism of modern country-pop in 2015. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released October 18, 2019 | Mercury Nashville

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Country - Released October 19, 2018 | Mercury Nashville

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Country - Released July 19, 2019 | Mercury Nashville

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Country - Released October 1, 2019 | Mercury Nashville

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Country - Released April 27, 2018 | Mercury Nashville

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Country - Released March 1, 2019 | Mercury Nashville

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Ambient/New Age - Released November 8, 2019 | Mercury Nashville

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Ambient/New Age - Released November 8, 2019 | Mercury Nashville