Maddie & Tae let the emotions flow on their new album, The Way it Feels. Compiled from a pair of EPs released in 2019, One Heart to Another and Everywhere I’m Goin,’ along with a handful of new tracks, the duo’s long awaited sophomore album is filled with their pristine harmonies wrapped around stories of love, loss and redemption.
The twosome of Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye have grown exponentially since setting the stage for their career with the statement-making debut single, “Girl in a Country Song,” in 2014. They’ve experienced a series of challenges along the way, one of the most difficult being the loss of their first record deal on the now-defunct Dot Records in 2017. Marlow has been open about her struggles with depression in the aftermath of the loss as the two friends and musical partners worked to carve out their own space in the music industry, the journey eventually leading them to their new label home of Universal Music Group Nashville. Through this range of motions, the young stars gained valuable life lessons.
“One of the bigger changes for us is we’ve really learned how to trust our gut a lot better,” Marlow notes in a phone call with Sounds Like Nashville. “We’ve really learned that our gut and our instincts are typically spot on.” Through trusting their instincts, the singers began to draw from a well of vulnerability on the new project, abandoning the natural instinct to avoid their emotions and instead embrace the truth. “We both were raised as these strong, independent women and tend to hide from feelings,” Marlow describes. “We’ve completely broken those barriers for ourselves.” Dye adds that this new mentality had a direct impact on the writing process for The Way it Feels, as they entered songwriting sessions with full hearts and capable minds.
“I think I can speak for Maddie and I both when I say the biggest lesson we probably learned was we are who we are, not what we do,” she says. Dye explains that when their career launched, she and Marlow’s sights were often set on seeking validation from those around them. But after being dropped from the label, it forced them to “take at hard look at our lives,” she recalls, and realize the respect they have for themselves and one another even in times of turmoil. “We started going into the writing room with this new found confidence and unapologetic force…and just write what we wanted to write instead of thinking about what other people wanted from us, which was really freeing and turned out to be the best move,” Dye asserts.
As the duo wrote more candidly, they noticed that fans were having a stronger connection to the raw material, approaching the singers after the show to share how the music resonated with them. One of those songs is “Die From a Broken Heart” with its potent lyrics about how to nurse a broken heart back to health after a devastating breakup. It’s a song they continuously hear about from fans who can’t help but share their universal stories of living with grief. “When we wrote ‘Die From a Broken Heart,’ that was in the midst of this uncertainty and not knowing where it was going to go and a lot of fear of the unknown,” Marlow explains. “You got to experience those really low lows to write great music.”
Both Marlow and Dye describe themselves as compassionate people who “feel deeply” for others, an integral element to their character that also plays into their music, particularly on the empathetic “Water in His Wine Glass.” The duo wrote the tender ballad with Jon Nite and Jimmy Robins about a family friend of Marlow’s who was battling addiction. “That was something that we didn’t really talk about or cover in our music, and it wasn’t something that I really wanted to write about, but I felt like you feel so deeply for others in the pain that they’re going through,” Marlow reflects. The writers approached the song like a prayer for the person who inspired it, a notion captured in such lyrics as “Lord pour water in his wine glass, bring the man he used to be back, cause I wanna look him in the eyes, and see someone I recognize, I’m on my knees and all I ask, is Lord pour water in his wine glass.”
Though Marlow was tepid at first about releasing a song with such a personal subject matter regarding a close friend, she says that she and Dye both had a gut instinct that the song’s message could help someone going through a similar situation. “We’re just so excited to see the healing that song’s going to do,” Marlow encourages. “I think it’s going to have a really special impact on people that have also experienced something like that.”
This new body of work sets the tone for the duo to continue creating sincere music – a by-product of walking in their truth with open hearts. “We want to make sure that what we’re saying means something. Truth in vulnerable, raw stories connects so deeply with people, it’s a human to human connection that is so special. There’s a fearlessness and an empowerment that comes with opening up, and it opens up a whole other world,” Marlow determines. “I feel like you just see the world show much more beautifully that way.”
The Way it Feels is available now.