Once wide-eyed teenage girls, now confident young adults — Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye, also known as country music duo Maddie & Tae, have returned to the music scene with a breathtaking new album “The Way It Feels.”
This is the duo’s second full-length album after the release of “Start Here” in 2015. “The Way It Feels” is a collection of 10 songs from the band’s two 2019 EPs, “Everywhere I’m Goin” and “One Heart To Another,” as well as five new tracks that all effortlessly mix with the rest of the songs to create a dynamic album with a nod to their growing maturity.
Like most country albums, “The Way It Feels” has its fair share of love-and-heartbreak ballads. In true Maddie & Tae fashion, the record also sports a number of female empowerment anthems, like the second track, “Bathroom Floor.” Its upbeat, danceable melody is paired with assured, catchy lyrics that tell the story of helping a friend go from heartbreak to a fun girls night out — but the party doesn’t stop there on the album. The confident themes continue through energetic songs like “Ain’t There Yet” and “New Dog Old Tricks.”
The duo has clearly moved on from the flirty songs of their teenage years like 2015’s “Shut Up And Fish.” The romance element in this album offers a self-assured, passionate approach to love in songs like “My Man” and “Write A Book.” As Marlow described in an interview with Apple Music, “Trying On Rings” is the song with which she shares the deepest connection as it is a direct representation of her relationship with her high school sweetheart and current husband, Jonah Font.
But where there’s love, there’s heartbreak. Songs like “Drunk Or Lonely,” “Die From A Broken Heart” and “I Don’t Need To Know” are all emotionally rich ballads full of lush harmonies and poignant lyrics. The song “Lay Here With Me,” featuring Dierks Bentley, tells the story of trying to salvage a crumbling love from both male and female perspectives. Marlow and Dye’s angelic voices paired with Bentley’s raspy vocals come together to add character to the song in a valuable collaboration.
One song, however, stands alone as the duo touches on a dark topic, something the two have never done before. In “Water In His Wine Glass,” Marlow shares her personal experience of dealing with alcoholism in someone close to her. It’s a somber song touched with a passion that shows a new vulnerable side to the group’s songwriting.
“The Way It Feels” is an evident step forward in the duo’s career. They have only bettered their intense storytelling ability in songs that improve with each listen. In a climate full of uncertainty and fear, it’s necessary to have music as a means to escape the worries and stress of the outside world. Maddie & Tae’s sophomore album provides well-written stories that completely capture the listener from beginning to end.