Writing off Maddie & Tae as a novelty act could be easy, but, hopefully, dead wrong.
I mean, how could you argue when a song begins with the voice over, "No country music was harmed in the making of this song. This is only a t-t-test"? The song in question would be "Girl in a Country Song."
Of course, that was the song that put them on the musical map, but it was no means a huge hit. It did strike a chord though because it was a rarity in country music - so are a few other aspects of M&T - an answer song. About time someone took a few pointed, but humorous barbs at the bro country boys like Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan.
It may have helped that Maddie Marlow and Taylor Dye are the exact type of females that would be made the object of in a bro country song at least based on their looks (Sorry, but there's no getting around that). Good for them in standing up for women!
However, do not think that M&T are going to be one-hit wonders. Their second single, "Fly," is excellent. This song underscores what they are all about - lovely harmonies with their voices blending oh so well.
The idea of harmonies is something else that sets them apart. You rarely hear that kind of singing any more. Maybe from some couples (McGraw and Hill, for example. Shelton and Lambert have done it, but, well, that's history unfortunately), but who else is currently doing it?
Give them a lot of credit for maintaining a big time country vibe on the CD. Yes, there is a bit of a sheen and brightness to it, but you will have no trouble hearing steel, mandolin, acoustic guitars, etc., etc. Marlow takes most of the lead vocals, but Dye is no slouch.
I must confess that when I heard they were working with Dann Huff, I was more than concerned. Huff has enjoyed a great career, but he goes for more of a pop or rock sound to his country (Billy Currington, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban). Would M&T sell their souls and dispense with their more traditional country sound? Fortunately, they did not.
Check out a few other songs on "Start Here." "Sierra," which Marlow wrote about a high school bully, who she could not stand, has a nice Mexican feel to it. "Shut Up And Fish" reminded me of Brad Paisley's "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)," only the relationship in M&T's song is over for a different reason. Good stuff.
Maddie & Tae provide a huge breath of fresh air to what's blowing out of Nashville these days. I'm hard pressed to listen to Kip Moore, Luke Bryan, Michael Ray among others and consider think of them as playing what I think of when "country music" comes to mind (That does not mean they are worthless as Moore adopts a gritty approach having gone to the School of Springsteen and Church).
Fortunately, there are also folks like Kacey Musgraves, Alan Jackson, Ashley Monroe and Kasey Chambers with great new albums out lately to keep the traditional flame burning ever so brightly. Add Maddie & Tae to the list because they aced their test.