I first heard sisters Maggie (banjo and guitar) and Elsie (mandolin and violin) Rigby around my Central Victorian home. Born into an extended family of bona fide professional folkies, their career path seemed set even then. Now Melbourne-based, the snowballing profile of the award-winning pair indicates a lifelong place in the musical landscape. A massive crowd awaiting one of their WOMADelaide gigs in March, left me listening from a distance.
Formerly The Mae Trio, the duo now work with an open position for third wheel. Currently in the cellist’s chair (also adding bvs) is Brisbane’s Monique Clare.
This self-titled collection of melodic dialogues was recorded during tours of Canada, Scotland, Ireland and in Melbourne. Contributing producers include John Fitzgerald (Christy Moore), Daniel Ledwell (Oh Pep!, Jenn Grant) and Brendon Love (Teskey Brothers).
The songwriting has an easy appeal, with room to mature as life experience accrues. Thoughtful lyrics are delivered with refreshing diction and conviction. They draw influences from Celtic, colonial and Americana traditions – in structure and spirit.
Sisters who grow up singing at play create unique harmonies. Consider some of Australia’s finest vocal pairings: Vika &Linda, The McClymonts, The Waifs. The Maes’ latest recording signals a stellar phase for these sisters doing it for themselves.
Reviewed by Chris Lambie