Maddie & Tae - 'Start Here'

 Maddie and Tae
Country duo Maddie & Tae released their debut album Start Here on August 28. With eleven tracks co-written by the duo (the deluxe version holds thirteen tracks) Start Here also includes the number one single Girl In A Country Song.

I truthfully didn't find myself drawn to Girl In A Country Song at all. Whilst you can't deny that the lyrics are clever, it does feel a little rant like after a while. The hip-hop styling of the production is awkwardly messy at times combined with the duo's distinctive tones and it does feel as though there are better tracks on the album.

The instrumentalisation of Shut Up And Fish is definitely catchy, although the song itself feels a little throwaway. The lyrics don't really seem personal to either Maddie or Taylor, leaving the song lacking the connection to the listener that would make it one you want to keep repeating. I also thought so much more could have been done with Right Here, Right Now. The verses have a strong overall sound but then it feels as though the chorus is just overpowering every time you hear it. A delicate vocal would have worked really well but ultimately the excessive vocals and production in the chorus diminish the overall sound of the track and leave it feeling a little uncomfortable.

I did, however, quite like both Smoke and Fly. Smoke has an interesting edge to the overall sound that adds another dynamic to the country-pop sound of the majority of the rest of the album. It is also nice to hear Maddie take lead vocals in Smoke although this is slightly overpowered by Taylor's voice in the chorus. Fly is another track which sees Maddie take lead vocals and combines the heavier production listeners here in a lot of Start Here with the emotion that pours out in After The Storm Blows Through. Focused around the lyric of "'cause you can learn to fly, on the way down" the track is very relatable and has certainly made for a very popular second single.

Maddie and Tae
The real gem of the album has to be After The Storm Blows Through (particularly the acoustic version in the deluxe version of the album). The relatively simple production proves that the duo don't need the heavy production and pace of other tracks on the album to really shine. Their harmonies are really strong, I'd really like to see them do an a cappela version of this. I think it would be something really impressive. The lyrics are also really touching, lines such as "I'll face that wind by your side, even take on that rain I don't mind" and "but I'll be here for you after the storm blows through" are delivered with a lot of emotion that is sure to really connect with the listener. Honestly a really gorgeous track.

Track listing...
1) Waitin' On A Plane - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Danny Myrick
2) Girl In A Country Song - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Aaron Scherz
3) Smoke - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Aaron Scherz, Brad Tursi
4) Shut Up And Fish - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Pete Sallis, Aaron Scherz
5) Fly - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Tiffany Vartanyan
6) Sierra - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Aaron Scherz
7) Your Side Of Town - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Blair Daly, Heather Morgan
8) Right Here, Right Now - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Matt McGinn
9) No Place Like You - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Jon Nite, Jimmy Robbins
10) After The Storm Blows Through - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Aaron Scherz, Trent Wilmon
11) Downside Of Growing Up - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Brent Anderson, Frank Rogers
Deluxe version...
12) After The Storm Blows Through (acoustic) - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Aaron Scherz, Trent Wilmon
13) Downside Of Growing Up (acoustic) - Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye, Brent Anderson, Frank Rogers

Whilst there are some strong moments in this album, unfortunately I remain unconvinced by Maddie & Tae. For me their sound can feel a little too sweet after you have listened to a few tracks and their distinctive voices are not shown to their best in this album through some poor overall choices and song inclusions. They are, however, coming to the UK as part of next year's Country To Country Festival and it will certainly be interesting to see their reception (and also which songs they decide to sing!)