Since they burst onto the country scene back in 2014 with their tongue-in-cheek debut single, ‘Girl In A Country Song’, Maddie & Tae have built a reputation as one of the strongest duos in country music. Known for their harmonies and smart songwriting, they’ve released two full-length albums – most recently 2020’s ‘The Way It Feels’ – and are now back with ‘Through The Madness Vol. 2’, the follow-up to the first half of a project released earlier this year.
The eight-track record opens with ‘Well In Your World’, which sees the duo looking back fondly on a teenage romance. Right from the off it features many of their trademarks, including the gorgeous blend of their vocals together and tons of detail in the lyrics such as reminiscing on ‘Friday nights at 17’ in the quick-fire chorus and asking if their old lover ever got to Colorado. There’s a real sense of fondness about the song and I loved the balance of the bright melody and rocky guitars on the bridge.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the project’s strongest tracks are the ballads. The downbeat ‘Drinking To Remember’ sees the duo’s sweet vocals layered over sparse beats and a bluesy guitar riff as they try to recall an old relationship with the help of alcohol, whilst ‘More Than Maybe’ has a quiet defiance about it and a powerful message about knowing your worth. There’s a real strength about Maddie & Tae on this album and you get a very rich sense of their maturity and growth throughout the piece.
For me the standout song is ‘Watching Love Leave’, where the pair are saying goodbye to a lover amid the realisation that breakups don’t always have to mean drama. You can feel the emotion that Maddie & Tae pour into every note and there’s a hugely powerful feeling of loss, balanced by the soaring chorus, that makes it difficult not to find yourself welling up. I also loved ‘These Tears’, an acoustic number about finally letting go and unleashing everything that you’ve kept bottled up. There’s a cathartic, lush quality about the song and the simple arrangement really lets the pair’s stunning vocals shine through.
That said, there’s still plenty of fun to be had on this album. ‘Every Night Every Morning’ is a twangy, lively love song, reflecting on the comfort of a relationship where your partner just ‘gets’ you, with a joyful chorus and some nice poppy touches throughout that put me in mind of early Taylor Swift. Elsewhere, the sultry, soulful ‘Girl After My Own Heart’, which sees Maddie & Tae warning another woman off their man, stays on the playful side and provides a twist on an old story along with a touch of female empowerment.
The record closes with ‘Spring Cleaning’, the duo’s recent single and which feels very much like a departure from the previous seven songs. It’s packed with sass and swagger as Maddie & Tae turf an ex-lover out on his ear, as well as stomping drums and crunchy guitars (and even the odd swear word thrown in!). I loved the sense of fun about it and it felt like a really strong note to end the project on.
Overall ‘Through The Madness Vol. 2’ shows the journey Maddie & Tae have been on, both musically and personally, whilst holding on to the things that have made them unique – namely their standout harmonies and ear for a good lyric. It’s a beautiful, dreamy record and is sure to appeal to fans of their previous work, as well as hopefully finding them new audiences too. Now here’s hoping they come back to the UK to play these songs soon…
Track listing: 1.Well In Your World 2. Every Night Every Morning 3. Drinking To Remember 4. Girl After My Own Heart 5. Watching Love Leave 6. More Than Maybe 7. These Tears 8. Spring Cleaning Record label: UMG Recordings/Mercury Nashville Release date: 23rd September 2022