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Review: Country's Maddie & Tae burn bright on superb album

Maddie & Tae, “The Way It Feels” (Mercury Nashville) Maddie Marlow and Taylor Dye, who record under the name Maddie & Tae, are more than collaborators. In the liner notes of their new album, each calls the other her “soul sister.” As great as their friendship is, we are the real beneficiaries.

Their second full-length album, the 15-track “The Way It Feels,” is funny in parts, touching in others and filled with glorious songwriting and harmonies. It is first-class country-pop and an absolute delight, from the broad, bear-hug celebration of America in “Everywhere I’m Goin’” to the intimate couple song “Trying on Rings.”

The album is almost evenly divided between songs in which love is strong — “My Man,” “Write a Book” and “Friends Don't” — or curdled, as in “Tourist In This Town,” “Drunk or Lonely, “ “One Heart to Another” and ”Die From a Broken Heart.” Dye is married to Josh Kerr, who supplied co-writing duties to “Write a Book” and “Bathroom Floor,” both terrific.

One of the saddest is “Water In His Wine Glass,” a song for a drinker that uses gentle religious imagery: “Lord pour water in his wine glass/Bring the man he used to be back.” Dierks Bentley makes a nifty addition to “Lay Here With Me,” a song about an exhausted fighting couple.

Maddie & Tae made splash a few years ago with the convention-skewering hoot “Girl In a Country Song,” but “The Way It Feels” shows off plenty of sides to this refreshing, exciting pair. It often resembles a greatest hits package — and in some ways it is. Several songs have previously been released as part of a pair of EPs in 2019. For anyone unfamiliar with the duo, this is a treat.

Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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