Maddie & Tae Turns Up the Fiddle and Steel Guitar on Harmony-Driven Debut Album, “Start Here”

Dot Records

Maddie & Tae were so set on keeping their debut album, Start Here, squarely in the country format, they taught veteran producer Dann Huff a thing or two about making a country album. Dann started out playing guitar on classic albums from the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Madonna before coming to Nashville to produce hits for Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Faith Hill and many others.

Maddie & Tae’s Maddie Marlow tells ABC Radio, “With Dann Huff, you know, he’s, like a rocker at heart, but he loved it, because it was such a challenge. He was like, ‘I think this is the most country thing I’ve ever produced.'”

Over the past decade, the fiddle and steel guitar have been replaced on a lot of country songs with drum loops and loud electric guitars. Maddie & Tae employed a few of those tricks on their debut hit, “Girl in a Country Song,” in an effort to prove a point about the state of modern country music.

As for the rest of Start Here, the duo’s Tae Dye says their latest single, “Fly,” is a better representation of what you’ll hear on the rest of the project.

“Everything’s country,” Tae explains. “The way we write our music. The way we present it. Everything about it.”

Maddie & Tae also keep it country with their honest lyrics on “Sierra” — a song about calling out a female bully — and “Shut Up and Fish” — an ode to women looking for a no-nonsense kind of guy.

Tae says of their lyrical approach, “It’s a really bold message, so we decided to take those messages head-on. In country, that’s what you get to do. You get to speak about things that haven’t really gotten talked about.”

She adds, “It’s like the big elephant in the room. It’s like, ‘Let’s address it and make light of the situation.'”

Look for Maddie & Tae to perform on NBC’s Today on Tuesday, September 1.