Maddie and Tae have been sharing new music from their forthcoming sophomore album with fans throughout most of 2018. Their follow-up to 2015’s Start Here, the country duo promise the project will be well worth the three-year wait. In an interview with Sounds Like Nashville earlier this year, Maddie Marlow and Taylor Dye shared some of the stories behind their concept album and discussed ups and downs they faced following the folding of their former label, Dot Records, in early 2017.
“This album has such a deeper meaning and it carries even more weight than the first one,” Marlow admits. “Because one, it’s a sophomore record, and two, it’s telling our story and there’s just a really, really bigger message behind everything on this record.”
While the concept album follows the life of a romantic relationship, much of the songs transpired after losing their record deal. The romantic relationship within the project holds more meaning for the duo, as they relate it to the loss of their first label deal.
Maddie and Tae wrote 13 of the album’s 14 songs, including lead single “Friends Don’t.” They explain that the single is the beginning of the album’s storyline and that it follows the “good, the bad and the ugly” of a relationship.
“[The album is] the context of a relationship where it starts out in that [gray area] — are we just friends, are we gonna make a move?” Marlow explains. “Then, it goes into the falling in love phase and everything’s great, rainbows and butterflies. And then, it goes into heartbreak phase, where the girl gets her heart broken and everything that she knew is not what it is anymore. The last four songs on the record are the redemptive part of the record, where the girl gets her power back and puts the pieces together.”
During the heartbreak phase of the album, the duo relate the relationship to the pain of losing their label, and the immense change going on throughout their career.
“Even though it is through the eyes of a relationship, it was definitely our lives. We were hurting and we were scared and just didn’t know what was going to happen,” Dye admits. “For me, it’s really hard to write about that stuff in the moment. I have to remove myself and almost write it from an outsider’s perspective, because it really is painful. It’s like therapy, bringing up stuff that your heart wants to ignore, but I’m so glad that we took the time to be honest with ourselves and write those songs. Our fans, I think, are going to really relate to that.”
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Maddie and Tae say the most honest song on the project is called “I Don’t Need To Know.” Marlow shares that the song’s storyline follows a breakup and how everyone wants to tell you how your ex is doing and where they saw him or her last. She relates it to their career, and how after Dot Records folded everyone kept asking them about their profession and if they have anything to prove.
“I was just like, ‘I don’t need to know what anyone thinks about me. I don’t need to know what anyone’s opinions are, if you think we’re a one-hit wonder,'” she reflects. “We got all kinds of comments like that and that song, to me, was one I feel really connected to because I was just trying to block all of that out, focus on myself and my happiness and I was just like, ‘I don’t need to know. I don’t need to know any of that stuff and I’m just going to try to ignore it, even though everyone’s trying to talk about it.'”
One of the lines in the song is, “The only thing worse in my imagination is all these third party observations.” It’s a lyric both women say strikes a chord with them.
“In that moment, as strong as you may be and as far removed from it as you may be, there’s still a bit of you that wonders. And, as humans, we play things up in our head and always assume the worst and we always have these stories going on,” Dye shares.
Marlow has been outspoken about the depression she faced while in between label deals. She says she shared her struggles in hopes that it would shine a light on the low points we all face and make others feel like they’re not alone.
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“I felt really convicted to share that because I think so many people do go through depression. It’s a real thing and what I learned with it is everything that you go through is only a temporary phase. So, even the great stuff is only going to last a certain amount of time, and the bad stuff is only going to last a certain amount of time,” she asserts.
“All of us get so wrapped up in our careers, so our self-worth is tied to how successful we are in our careers — not are we a good human, do we have a good heart, are we a good friend — those things that are way more important than any career would ever be,” she continues. “When your self-worth is tied up in your career and you feel like your career’s falling apart, I felt like I had nothing to offer to the world. I didn’t feel like a talented songwriter, and I had zero confidence. It took a couple months for me to literally look in the mirror and be like, ‘You are worth something, you’re beautiful.'”
Another song, “Ain’t There Yet,” discusses these struggles. Maddie and Tae say they’ll put it towards the end of the record because it’s the start of the character’s redemption when she looks back on the breakup and is slowly starting to move on.
“That’s probably my favorite song because I feel like it ties the whole thing together. You have the pain and then you have the way of coming out of it,” Dye shares.
Marlow agrees, adding, “You still have the vision, you still see the silver lining.”
Maddie and Tae rose to fame for their clever songwriting and tongue-in-cheek humor heard on songs like their 2014 No. 1 single “Girl In A Country Song” and the infectious “Shut Up and Fish,” and they promise this wit will be showcased on their sophomore album.
“We did the tongue-in-cheek thing, but a little bit differently on this record. We did it kind of quirkier with lines like those lines that you’re like, ‘Wait, what?’ And, it’s just so random that it’s cool. Every single song has one of those lines where it’s like, ‘Wow, I would not expect that,'” Marlow concedes.
Maddie and Tae have shared several new songs live, including “Die From A Broken Heart,” “New Dogs, Old Tricks” and “Write a Book.”
Fans will get to hear even more from the project when the duo join Carrie Underwood in 2019 on her Cry Pretty Tour 360.