For Maddie Marlow, it’s “Wheel of the World” from 2007. And for Taylor Dye, it’s “Good in Goodbye” from 2012.
When I asked Maddie & Tae what their favorite Carrie Underwood songs were, they were both quick to tell me that their love of her music runs deep, and it goes way back. And I have to assume the feeling must be mutual because Underwood recently invited the duo to join her on her Cry Pretty tour in 2019.
“At first, we got word that she was putting together a tour and that we were on the consideration list,” Marlow told me. “We prayed our little hearts out for weeks. And when our manager called us and said there was news, we thought it was going to be that we didn’t get the tour. But we did get it, and we are direct support.
“After a couple years of some really challenging things, to have one of the biggest artists recognize what we’re doing is absolutely incredible,” Dye added. “Carrie is a powerhouse, so obviously that’s gonna be nerve-wracking to just be standing next to her knowing how talented she is.”
The duo agrees that Underwood was intentional in the way she built the upcoming tour. “I think she wanted to have female empowerment. I think she wants that female perspective,” Dye said. But it’s also — as it should be — all about the music. “We heard that Carrie heard some of the music from our new project and that she believes in us. That’s huge. I’m going to take that and hold onto it for the rest of my life. If Carrie thinks you’re cool, you’re cool.”
The new music that Underwood got an advance listen to is a long time coming. The duo’s debut album Start Here is more than three years old, so this follow up is long overdue. In a good way. “We are just so grateful that our fans have been patient. Our label shut down in the middle of us putting a record together,” Marlow said, “so we are trying to make lemonade out of lemons.”
“We’ve grown up so much since we put out our first record. Everything we’ve been through was awful, and we were so uncomfortable and so unsure of ourselves. But what we went through was crucial for the emotion that went into this second record. We needed that,” Dye said.
The first single from the second album, which the duo says should be released in early 2019, is called “Friends Don’t.” As in, Friends don’t stand around, playing with their keys/Finding reasons not to leave/Trying to hide the chemistry/Drive a little too slow, take the long way home/Get a little too close/We do, but friends don’t.
“I remember the day we wrote it, we started writing a bunch of different ideas. But nothing was sticking,” Marlow said of the session with Dye, Justin Ebach and Jon Nite. “And then I started telling everyone about my sister’s love life, about her situation with this guy. And I was like, ’That’s not a friend thing, because friends don’t do that. Friends don’t try to spend extra time with you.’ They were like, ’Let’s write that.'”
The result is just what Maddie & Tae’s loyal fans have come to love about them: an insightful song with tension and romance and some very sexy imagery about that moment when you realize it’s way more than friendship (And by the way, they’d love to hear your “Friends Don’t” stories.).
Maddie & Tae will perform with Underwood and Runaway June at the CMT Artists of the Year ceremony when it premieres live from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.